How to Live the Bible — Restoring Dignity

This is the one-hundred-eighth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here. Mel is the author of […] The post How to Live the Bible — Restoring Dignity appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

How to Live the Bible — Restoring Dignity
This is the one-hundred-eighth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here. Mel is the author of the upcoming A Chronicle of Grief: Finding Life After Traumatic Loss. One valid way of describing the gospel of Jesus Christ is that it is the promise of the restoration of dignity. God created humanity according to his image and his likeness, and thus invested humanity with incalculable worth. Because the human race has become twisted and corrupted by sin, barely reflecting Godlikeness, God chose to make redemption and restoration possible. This saving mission has many descriptions: reconciliation, justification, adoption, redemption, sanctification, glorification. The mission of Jesus was to seek and to save the lost. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit combine in this great saving feat, and human beings gain worthwhileness in the process. This is the gospel. One of the most quoted verses of the New Testament is Romans 8:28: “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It’s the “all things” idea that catches our interest. Almost everybody is trying to understand the mystery that life sometimes seems so good, and at other times so bad. “All things” are full of contradictions. The people we love the most are those who can hurt us the most. The natural world can be breathtakingly beautiful, and then turn into a hostile environment. You can go to Washington, DC and walk among the stately pillars and facades, the monuments to the fallen soldiers, the memorials to great leaders—and wonder how the government can be replete with so many weaknesses and engender such a low level of confidence in the populace. Life is full of crosscurrents and contradictions. In almost every area of life we are left wondering: Is there some good that can emerge from all these contradictions? What can be salvaged from “all things”? So when Romans 8:28 says “in all things” God works for the good of those who love him, we want to know how that works. Just before Romans 8, the apostle Paul describes the inner spiritual battle within the self: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing” (7:19). No wonder life is full of conflict and contradictions. No wonder we want to believe that somehow, “in all things God works for the good.” The very next sentence in Romans 8 describes how “all things” can somehow work out in the grand scheme of life. Here we find again the idea of humanity created in the image of God: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (8:29, italics added). Here is the big picture. God created a world and a special class of creatures known as human beings as a spectacular expression of God’s own glory, power, majesty, holiness, beauty, and love. But humanity became corrupted. Bent toward transgression; misguided by sin; blind to reality. Diminished, shattered, subject to every form of indignity. Men and women, gangs and governments, dictators and wife beaters and slave owners became the despoilers of dignity. And sometimes they construct whole bureaucracies of indignity or campaigns of murder. God was not content to leave a broken world broken, and so a way of restoration was forged. This plan was “predestined,” which means to be arranged ahead of time. Paul’s point here is that the proclamation about Jesus’ mission and message was not a random innovation. No one spontaneously fabricated Jesus from Nazareth as savior figure. The purpose of Jesus’ mission was to make a way for the restoration of human nature for anyone (“to be conformed to the image of his Son”). The “image of [God’s] Son” is not different from the creation principle of being created “in the image of God.” Humanity was created in the image of God; Jesus is the perfection of humanity, and thus the perfect picture of what this image is (see Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15). This is the dignity of Jesus—a worth or value that exceeds simple human value. He suffered indignities at the hand of human authorities, but his true worth was never compromised. ___________ Sign up to receive the free once-a-week email series, How to Live the Bible, by author and pastor Dr. Mel Lawrenz By submitting your email address, you understand that you will receive email communications from Bible Gateway, a division of The Zondervan Corporation, 3900 Sparks Drive SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546 USA, including commercial communications and messages from partners of Bible Gateway. You may unsubscribe from Bible Gateway’s emails at any time. If you have any questions, please review our Privacy Policy or email us at privacy@biblegateway.com. 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He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s teaching pastor. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay. The post How to Live the Bible — Restoring Dignity appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.