you know you’ve come across something good when you call your husband from the bookstore so you can chat about a book and read some to him over the phone. i caved and bought n.t. wright’s new book (though there might be another by the time i post this – that man is prolific!) surprised by hope: rethinking heaven, the resurrection, and the mission of the church. here is a quote, rather long-ish but very good.
When the church is seen to move straight from worship of the God we see in Jesus to making a difference and effecting much-needed change in the real world; when it becomes clear that the people who feast at Jesus’s table are the ones in the forefront of work to eliminate hunger and famine; when people realize that those who pray for the Spirit to work in and through them are the people who seem to have extra resources of love and patience in caring for those whose lives are damaged, bruised, and shamed, then it is not only natural to speak of Jesus himself and to encourage others to worship him for themselves and find out what belonging to his family is all about but it is also natural for people, however irreligious they may think of themselves as being, to recognize that something is going on that they want to be part of. In terms that the author of Acts might have used, when the church is living out the kingdom of God, the word of God will spread powerfully and do its own work. p.267
i’ve been flipping around the book and this was from the end where he is describing the “reshaping of the church” in light of what he has discussed regarding heaven and the resurrection. as i read this i desperately wanted to believe that people who walk in the doors of my church, and even in the doors of my home, see this about us/my family. do they? are we even attracting non-believers? these questions have been lying heavily on me lately. from what little i’ve read, though, wright’s book is an encouragement – an encouragement to continue telling the story of who jesus is and why he came.
i’ll give you some more thoughts as i read through the book. and because i won’t try to top the good quote describing the book on the dust jacket, here you go:
Wright convincingly argues that what we believe about life after death directly affects what we believe about life before death. For if God intends to renew the whole creation – and if this has already begun in Jesus’s resurrection – the church cannot stop at “saving souls” but must anticipate the eventual renewal by working for God’s kingdom in the wider world, bringing healing and hope in the present life.