So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5: 16-19

Watching the news and such.

Yesterday I turned on the TV. The TV was set on CNN (or one of those cable news channels). Upon this realization I turned off the TV. I just wasn’t in the mood. Later that day, walking by one of those newspaper containers (I have no idea what they are called) I decided to grab the day’s newspaper. I made a mistake. Ten minutes into browsing the different stories and topics discussed in that issue I lost hope and threw it away (It’s okay. It was a recycling bin).

Finally, coming back towards downtown Raleigh after my first training session at work, I turned on the radio in the car–may last hope at making an interaction with the cosmopolitan world. The radio was set to NPR (a radio station which I listen to and respect) but I wasn’t in the mood, so I switched it over to G105 (mainstream music radio) but it was another mistake. I was tired of the world. I was frustrated and I didn’t know a way out.

Life: Take Two.

I feel like a lot of life is like this but on bigger and much more costly proportions. We go from place to place, phase to phase, opportunity to opportunity attempting to engage, interact, push through, be enlightened, and be illuminated. Of course, above and beyond all these reasons behind our pursuit, we desire purpose, destiny, or the mainstream way of stating this: we want to make a difference.

So in a way it’s no different from switching on the TV, and then turning it off. Switching on the radio and turning it off. Opening in the newspaper and recycling it ten minutes later. We move from moment to moment, experience to experience, looking for some sort of great fulfillment. When we look at our American lives (since I am an American and I live in the continental U.S. of A.) we realize that the marketing experts know this is exactly what the human soul is looking for and what our greatest desire  is: that one experience that will give us purpose, show us our destiny, and lead us toward great bliss and a life-long ecstasy due to the fact we are doing what the gods (not really but sure) destined us to do.

I can go on forever about examples of this in our culture; however, one example (which currently plays on TV) is pretty close to the top.

As kids we are sent to summer camps during the time off school in order to (1) do something, (2) learn something, (3) meet people, and (4) hopefully apply some of what we learn to our regular lives. Whether it may be canoeing, making a bonfire, learning how to do a ropes course, learning to interact with people, or shooting bows and arrows (plus playing some awesome kickball) summer camps help us, as children, begin to fulfill this need for experience and the desire for bliss (a sort of pleasure) that we are predispose to by our very nature.

A much less innocent and much more controversial perspective on this is presented by a new commercial on TV titled Camp Vegas. In this commercial, a group of people are sitting with notes and papers on the table in front of them as they review a number of candidates or applicants for camp counselor positions. In the end, after reviewing a number of applicants, they decide to choose another group of people not shown before. The camera turns and shows a group of good-looking young men and women in bathing suits.

After this, the scenery completely changes and the setting becomes Las Vegas, with is casinos, hotels, clubs, and endless amounts of possibilities and forms entertainment. Endless possibilities of joy and bliss–after all, what else could life be about?

Sure. The type of experiences and life journeys presented in the Camp Vegas commercial campaign are not the same as those presented in summer camp brochures by your local YMCA and Parks and Recreation department. Actually, I rather have you send your kids to summer camps (which are really good life experiences) than to Camp Vegas. I also don’t want you to think I am criticizing or condemning the experiences or the fun one may find in regular summer camps or Camp Vegas. What I trying to shine light upon is the human condition.

The Human Condition Revisited.

The human condition? A may not be 1,000 years old and be a wise sage who you should go to in order to understand life’s mysteries. I claim no more than a pursuit of wisdom and eternal truth is our socio-universal human experience. However, I believe there is a human condition that applies and expands not only in our Western thought and civilization, but one that also expands throughout our existence in this world and planet and applies to all human civilizations of the present, the past, and even the future.  This universal human condition cannot be avoided, for it is found deep within our nature and being. It cannot be escaped, at least not through conventional means (or anything you can buy through infomercials). It is corroborated by all human lifestyles, possibilities, potential decisions, and human society. The human condition is such: that our pursuit for purpose, pleasure, and fulfillment comes from a lacking of an essential part of what we were meant to be and how we were meant to exist. The present condition is the result of a wrong decision made in the past, back when time was young, and that, due to our hereditary nature, has carried on from person to person up until now–and will continue for generations to come. It was the result of pride and it’s result was sin. However, even though sin came to be, the visible outcome of it that we see in the world today is that we, as humans, go from place to place, from moment to moment, from experience to experience (like spiritual nomads) looking for a solution to this condition: looking for a cure.

Nomads.

Yes, we look for a physical cure to something that is spiritual. We look for a religious cure for something that is beyond this world. We are looking for a rational cure for something that is divine. We have been searching, without rest, for an answer to the questions and unanswered dilemmas that plague our existence.

As nomads we live our lives looking for the final piece to the puzzle. An excellent piece of evidence of this is the very fact that our movies, novels, comic books, and epic stories depict this very aspect of the human condition. However, even the great fictions and works of man conclude unfinished, because at the end of every story we must ask ourselves the question: what about tomorrow? What about the unknown and unexpected?

Yet they speak truth. The great philosophers, thinkers, writers, and heroes of the world did speak truth in humanity’s search for something: something that had either been lost or not yet found. But they were far from the answer, even though in other ways very close.

At the Garden of Eden a relationship was broken. God, who found it well to make us and place us at the head of all created creatures, had in the very beginning a relationship with man and woman. They existed in harmony with their maker and live in a relationship of Maker and Creature, Father and Children, God and Human, Eternal Lord and the stewards of creation. However, we were lied to and misled by other forces, forces not existing in order to honor the Maker of All. This evil spirit (Satan), in no way or shape a god or close to being a god, misled mankind by stating that in sinning, we would be like God–not realizing mankind had already been made in the image of the Creator.

Martin Luther and John Calvin, both leaders and theologians in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century, agreed that something had been lost and that something had been changed when our forefathers sinned and turned their lives away from God. Even though this is a topic for a whole other post (actually more like a whole book), I do believe that part of what change at the fall was our status quo in our relationship with God. We became isolated in our walk and in our lives. Humanity lost an essential part to its existence and to its fulfillment. At the Fall of Mankind, falling short of the glory of God, we lost our relationship to God, a relationship so pure, loving, wonderful, and awesome that it’s very experience would overwhelm us beyond understanding.

The Ministry of Reconciliation.

Isn’t this what Jesus states in the Sermon on the Mount? Acquire treasures not on Earth where the rust and moth destroy but in Heaven where they cannot be touched by the effects of time? Didn’t He say to not worry about today for your Father who is in Heaven will provide if we believe and trust Him with our very life? Didn’t Jesus say that He was the way, the truth, and the life? The truth, yes the truth, is that as humans we were meant to find true joy, bliss, pleasure, and fulfillment in the presence of the glory of God. Our very relationship with God, founded upon the fact that He LOVES us, was so overwhelming at the beginning of mankind’s existence, that it made us unaware, or at least unashamed, of walking around naked. God’s love was (and is) so great that it overwhelmed any earthly state and condition. Adam and Eve were not ashamed of nakedness because God’s Love for them was their only necessary and essential identity and need. They needed nothing else. They were in harmony with one another and their Father God.

But at the fall we lost that relationship. At the Fall we, first of all, became ashamed of nakedness due to the fact that God’s passion for us was no longer what defined us and gave us value. We became overwhelmed by other things and aspects of life to the extent that the first thing Adam and Eve did was look for something to cover themselves with (and now we have department stores and outfitters…found at super malls near you).

However, at the cross Jesus offers us the opportunity for reconciliation. Like it states in 2 Corinthians 5, we are to no longer approach one another and the world from the world’s misled and faulty perspective. We are to work towards the world’s, people’s, reconciliation with the Father through Christ: the same way that as Christians we are transformed and reconciled to the God, through the great and sufficient atonement paid for by Jesus Christ at the cross.

Not only are we transformed into a new creation able to honor and glorify God with our lives. Because we know true fulfillment and our true purpose is with God, we are given the ministry of Reconciliation: our charge is to carry the commission given to us, believers, as we persevere in our own lives and in reconciling others to God through the truth of the Gospel.

Our Charge.

The charge given to the Body of Christ, the universal church of all the believers, is to continue the work started in us by God by pursuing that work in others. We are not to look at the rest of the world in contempt, simply because we have found the true solution to the essential question the world struggles with every day. In the words of the Christian pastor and social leader Dietrich Bonhoeffer “we must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer…God himself did not despise humanity, but became man for men’s sake” (Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison). We are, instead of contempt, to feel compassion for the world as God felt compassion for humanity. We are to live lives that honor God and depict the love of Christ to our fellow men and women who are still looking for a way to fulfillment and purpose, because the truth is that even those who think that they have found true purpose and destiny in success or some earthly pursuit, don’t realize that all earthly treasures are doomed to rust and to be plague by moth.

Ours is the ministry of reconciliation, for great is the harvest and few the workers out on the field.

—–

In conclusion, Jesus, thank you for your mercy and compassion which is new every morning. Thank you for your patience as this sinner struggles to walk in your ways and in honor of Your Name–the name above every name. Father God, Jesus: Son of God, and Holy Spirit, I am overwhelmed by a truth that convicts me and humbles me every day of my life. I am also honored and in return I worship you with prayers, songs, and godly thoughts, when I remember an essential fact of my existence. Lord, this truth is the fact that You transformed me.

Blessings.

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