Designed to Flourish

June 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

As a young married couple living in Jackson, MS, Katherine and I saw the movie ET when it first came out, during my seminary years. There are innumerable famous scenes in the flick that gave us that loveable yet hideous little alien. The image of him flying through the air on a bicycle with his human champion, a pre-adolescent boy named Elliot, silhouetted against the moon, is its most enduring. But the moment that has greatest residence with me is when ET points his glowing index finger to a potted plant that has died for lack of sunlight and water. Immediately the plant is completely revived in all the luscious splendor it was intended to display.

I love that scene because for me it offers a symbolic reminder of the power of the gospel to reverse the effects of sin in any forum, whether a heart, a family, a friendship or a neighborhood. From the moment of the fall all that was designed to flourish has been marked by decay, and eventually, death. The world was created to be beautiful, and a drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains, or along the US West Coast will provide plenty of reminders, among many, to this truth. But even as I write, fires burn in Colorado and storms have left Florida a flooded mess, as well.

I don’t know why, but much of this came to me when we happened upon the drum pictured above, as Katherine and I walked a back alley behind a façade of order and beauty in a neighboring community.

The world is as broken as we are because sin is a violence to all that is lovely. And only something alien to our limited human attempts can transform whatever ‘universe’ we find ourselves in, to something more beautiful. So we look to Jesus, the One who makes ‘all things new,’ with the hope and assurance that He is that force that restores life where there would otherwise be death, and brings beauty from the ashes.

Here is the thing: I want to do that too. In fact we have been called to this. We have been called to be as redemptive and restorative in the world as Jesus has been to us. His Church has been handed the ‘keys to the kingdom’ (Matthew 16), and with this the means by which Jesus authenticates His promise to forgive sins, heal the broken, reconcile the alienated and find the lost.

And I want that. I mean, don’t you? Don’t you want to be that person whose heart glows with love and compassion towards a loved one, a friend, a community, even an enemy – in a dire moment, a moment when you might otherwise have every instinct to ignore, defend, attack or lash out, but instead you are that agent of flourishing, peace, healing and grace, for no discernable reason other than the fact that Jesus showed up too?

So much of what is in our broken world and wounded lives is inedible, but Jesus makes the inedible delicious, and the ugly ravishing.

And because of Him, we do too.

What good news.


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