by Alexei Laushkin
One thought from Metropolitan Kalistos Ware has always stuck with me. The idea is that man is only created creature that can offer back his world back to God in thanksgiving. Ware expresses this idea in many forms. Here’s an example:
Being microcosm, man is also mediator. It is his God-given task to reconcile and harmonize the noetic and the material realms, to bring them to unity, to spiritualize the material, and to render manifest all the latent capacities of the created order.
Man is able to exercise this mediating role only because his human nature is essentially and fundamentally a unity.
Man spiritualizes the creation first of all by spiritualizing his own body and offering it to God. ‘Do you not realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit that is in you?’ writes St Paul. ‘. . . Glorify God with your body . . . I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God’ (1 Cor 6:19-20; Rom 12:1). But in ‘spiritualizing’ the body, man does not thereby dematerialize it: on the contrary, it is the human vocation to manifest the spiritual in and through the material. Christians are in this sense the only true materialists.
When we end a long week or a long day or a long season one of the signs of our contentment is whether we are able to offer up each area of our life back to God in thanksgiving and praise. We are fundamentally stewards of the gifts and events that come before us. Whether something is very easy or very very difficult makes no particular difference to the sort of inner life we are to cultivate as Christ followers.
This is a fundamental aspect of the incarnation, where Christianity becomes not a set of right ideas but of deeply ingrained and incarnated realities within the life of the believer. This is the realm where Abraham Kuyper’s sense that nothing under all creation doesn’t belong to Christ, the same is true of each of us, and we as fellow priests and co-laborers in the kingdom made possible by the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ are at this priestly task in our day to day lives.
So what does this disposition and view of the day tell us about wider matters, prudential matters, issues of dispute, and issues of justice. It tells us that we are to intercede as far as the realm is related to what God is doing in us, and to acquire a certain level of competency and skill.
It also fills us with hope that we can actively make a difference for believers around the world, by offering up what we know and reconciling it back to God in humility.
We are offering the broken aspects of our world back to God and where we are unable in the sense that we are unable to account for the whole aspect of the injustice we can as priests, offer up the reconciliation of those unwilling and unable to turn. We can in that sense intercede for deep matters of injustice and play a part in the wider matters in so far as God has given us authority and a sense of calling to that matter of concern.
Alexei Laushkin is a Board Member of the Kingdom Mission Society, Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network, and writer of the Foolishconfidence blog. His views are his own.