It's the world that Ecclesiastes 3 describes for us so beautifully—a world in which we can see glimpses of order and goodness, and in which we can affirm that everything has its right time, and yet a world which eludes us. We cannot see the whole—neither in all its parts and variety, nor in its future. This is the burden God has laid upon humanity, Ecclesiastes tells us. It is the frustration he has afflicted us with so that we might seek him, who alone sees all and knows the meaning of all.
The gospel does and doesn't free us from this frustration. It doesn't give us the answers that the Preacher of Ecclesiastes agonized over. We still can't see the whole. We still can't explain everything. We still can't rule the world. But we do see Jesus, the Man who rules the world, and who will one day free us from our frustration by bringing in God's new creation. That's our message to the world, and we know it because the God who knows it all has revealed it to us.
The continuing and frustrating opacity and complexity of the world is why Christian citizens who agree on the Bible and the gospel will, nevertheless, come to different conclusions about secular arrangements, plans and problems (like the price of coffee). We may share a biblical desire to love and do good to all people, and especially the household of faith, but think quite differently as to what the best way to help is, or what the most pressing problem to address is.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
From an interesting take on the phenomenon of fair trade coffee (I love these words regardless of how enthusiastic you are about buying fair trade):