Summary: We reflect on major news stories of 2014. Then we explain how the Bible is a story. We finish by drawing implications that God has a story for us, for the world, and for our church in 2015.
THE GLORY OF A STORY
John Tung, 1-4-15
I. Introduction: The Story of the World in 2014
Happy New Year, everyone! As we say goodbye to 2014, we can say that it was quite a year.
On the international front, we had the Ebola crisis, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, and now also flight 8501 of AirAsia with 162 on board. In April, a ferry capsized off the west coast of South Korea, leaving 304 dead. The incident led to a period of national mourning during which many South Koreans wore a yellow ribbon in remembrance.
We had the brutal beheadings in Syria by members of the Islamic State. There was also Russian President Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea in March, and the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight 17. Meanwhile, the fighting between Israel and militants in Gaza in July and August resulted in a combined death toll of nearly 2,000. And continuing civil war in Syria had resulted in massive numbers of refugees fleeing to bordering nations (huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/23/biggest-international-news-stories-of-2014.html).
And here in the U.S. grand juries refusal to indict police officers in Ferguson, MO and in Staten Island, NYC, led to protests. And that was followed by the shooting of two policemen in Brooklyn.
What are we to make of these major stories of 2014?
People can debate and wonder if there is any significance or connection between these major stories. As for me, I see that one of the themes of these major stories in 2014 is that conflicts between people is as real today as it ever was in history and also that tragedy and disease still strike and yet now we are all so connected electronically so that we all know about them. We feel the world suffering and we know that people are living in the midst of conflicts with other people.
It feels as if the world is lying near a fault line, like an earthquake fault line (slide).
For people who live near a fault line, it can be very calm and peaceful for a long time and people go about their business and ordinary life. But every now and then, the fault lines of this world – whether it is political, social, ethnic or biological fault lines – can crack and some people can fall into the fault lines and suffer. Then life halts, while we try to rescue those who are hurting – and after a period of time – if it’s quiet for a while – then humanity goes on about living their lives again. Until the next fault line cracks. So, we have to have compassion for people since we all have these fault lines around us.
I would say that these fault lines are the result of sin entering into the world. When sin entered the world, not only did sin affect us individually and create fault lines between us and God and between us and other human beings, but fault lines also came about in nature, between people groups, between governments, in diseases, and in all aspects of human life.
These fault lines are not God’s fault – they are the result of sin in this world – both Adam and Eve’s sins, but also due to present sins and neglect humans commit.
But in redemption and in God’s mercy – God keeps those fault lines bearable and so humanity as a whole can live lives of relative peace. But because this world still lives in sin, and the fault lines have not fully disappeared – so every now and then, the fault lines shake and they quake and people fall and they suffer. This tells us that this world is not our final home. God is bringing forth a new world through Jesus Christ that has come, is still coming, but not fully here. That is redemption. That is God’s mission. And it is also our and the church’s mission to join with God in his mission.
The passage I want to give guidance for us as we enter 2015 is an ancient text. It is from Deut. 6:4-25. This passage tells us how to live with fault lines [Read.]
NIV Deut. 6:4-25, “4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.