Calling that which is not as if it is.

Posted on August 2, 2011

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I have never been a huge fan of the book of Romans.

I know the arguments about it being a theological masterpiece, but I always found its emphasis on “righteousness” far too stagnant, defensive, and argumentative. The book sounded a lot like too many self-righteous Christians. I would guess that no other book of the Bible is more often used to justify the actions of judgmental Christians than the book of Romans. Since it also contains the cornerstone argument used for gay-hating (Romans 1: 26-27), it doesn’t endear itself to me.*

However, as I was reading though Romans I came across this line from Chapter 4 in a section titled Abraham Justified by Faith.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were. (New International Version, bold is my emphasis.)

The concept of calling things out of nothingness has obvious parallels found in the creation accounts in first chapters of Genesis.

And God said, “Let there be light.” And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation.” And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night.” And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth.” And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures.” Then God said, “Let us make man in our image.”

God speaks and what was not, now is.

This comforts me because as an aspiring writer, I am always seeking validation that my writing is good enough, worth a read, maybe even worth being paid for. I rarely feel like a professional writer because I can’t support my family doing the kind of writing that I want to do. I am not a writer.

But it blows my mind to think that God speaks about me, my dreams, aspirations, and talents, which he has given me, as if they were already bearing fruit in my life. I am a writer.

Our lives are always trying to catch up with the reality that God already sees.

This isn’t the power of positive thinking. This isn’t self-help. This isn’t a way to loose weight, improve our golf game, or get a promotion. This is biblical truth that God is involved in the world by constantly reshaping reality.

This verse is part of a large discourage about Abraham, who had did not have a son, did not have a legacy, was old and without hope. But God spoke about his future as if it were already. God entered his life and reshaped his reality. While it took awhile for this flower of promise to flourish, it did eventually bloom.

And these divine reshapings can be in the realm of miracle. By which I mean, even though all the evidence points in one direction and toward toward one conclusion, it doesn’t happen. Cancer kills. The globe is warming up. War in inevitable. Politicians lie. Business is corrupt. Poverty is exploited for profit. There is nothing a person can do to change the world. Even though the momentum of human history seems to be barreling toward destruction, a word from God and everything changes.

God speaks of things that are not as though they were.

This is a God I am proud to share with the world. This is good news. That in spite of all the evidence, so clear to anyone with eyes, that my life is a mess, God calls me whole and clean and good and worthy of love.

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*I recognize that many of my feelings towards Romans have to do with how the words of the book are used by Christians and that the book actually does contain many inspirational, wise, and even kind words.

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