Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Advent 2015

"Through God's Eyes"


             Precious Ramotswe is the only female private detective in the country of Botswana.  At least that is the premise of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.  I encountered this series over ten years ago and faithfully read each new novel.  I find them refreshingly life-affirming and joyful.  Mma Ramotswe loves Botswana and hero worships its first president, Sir Seretse Khama.  She cannot imagine living in a better place.  While the world may see just another country in Africa, desert mostly, with a desperately high      HIV-infection rate, Mma Ramotswe sees untold blessings and God's good hand on its history and people.  She sees Botswana with different eyes than the rest of the world.

In Luke 3, Tiberius is emperor, Pontius Pilate is governor of Judea, Herod is ruler of Galilee, Philip is ruler of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias is ruler of Abilene.  However, the word of God comes to John, son of Zechariah.  John is called by God to proclaim a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  As the Gospel of Luke understands it, the rulers of the world, Tiberius, Pontius Pilate, Herod, etc., are peripheral to God's story.  God's story involves John the Baptist, those who respond to him, and subsequently Jesus and those who respond to him.  John knows he is part of God's story, just as Mary knows she is part of God's story.  It is clear to them, and to the prophets who foretold the Messiah, that God's story is not the world's story and the world's story is not God's story.  Those looking for God's story must see with different eyes than the rest of the world. 

Philip Yancey has written: 

According to some estimates, Christians in developed Western countries now represent only 37 percent of believers worldwide.  As I travel and also read church history, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God "moving" geographically from place to place:  from the Middle East to Europe to North America to the developing world.  My theory is this:  God goes where he's wanted. 

Estimates of the countries with the largest numbers of Christians in 2050 place the United States, Brazil, the Philippines, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Nigeria, Uganda, China, and Russia as the top ten.  The Spirit appears to be busy moving across the face of the earth, and God continues to choose participants in his story who are unexpected. 

We tend to see what we are looking for.  Perhaps God's vision for the world is coming into being before our very eyes, but in order to see it we have to use different eyes than the rest of the world:  eyes like

those of the prophets and John the Baptist and Mary and Jesus which can see the Spirit of God moving where it wills...May God refocus our vision this Advent season. 

- Wyc Rountree


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