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What it Means to Be Human (Excerpt from Michael Wittmer's "Becoming Worldly Saints)
The following is an excerpt from Michael Wittmer's book Becoming Worldly Saints (releasing 2/3/15), which asks us: Can you serve Jesus and still enjoy your life?
We learn what it means to be human from Scripture’s opening act of creation and what it means to be Christian from its closing act of redemption. If redemption restores creation, then the point of being a Christian is to restore our humanity. All things being equal, no one should flourish like a Christian.
We may not drive BMWs or vacation in the Hamptons, but we should thrive in every aspect of our human lives. Flourishing is a high-minded and hazy term, and since it’s a key concept in this book, I must explain what I mean by it. Merriam-Webster defines flourish in two distinct but related ways: (1) to grow luxuriantly, and (2) to achieve success. We flourish in the first sense when we do what is right and in the second when we are rewarded for it. Flourishing in both ways is present when a couple celebrates their golden anniversary surrounded by loving children and grandchildren, when an employee receives a promotion for her diligent work, and when a middle-aged man sheds ten pounds through diet and exercise (he wrote, wistfully).
Certainly, doing right is more important than the reward. Proverbs 16:8 says, “Better a little with righteousness than muchgain with injustice,” and Psalm 37:16 adds, “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked.” Doing right is also the only aspect within our control. We can always choose to do what is right, but we can never control the outcome. We may love our family, work hard, and exercise every day, but our much-deserved benefits may be stymied by a rebellious child, vindictive boss, or low metabolism.
Flourishing is a sliding scale. We flourish more or less depending on how well we do and how well we’re rewarded. But even when great reward is missing, we may still flourish in the first sense, which has the added benefit of stretching our hearts to more fully appreciate the rewards as they come. I know foster parents who plead with God for an abused child who might soon be returned to her drug-addicted parent. They do not feel like they are flourishing, but I can tell. Their compassion reveals a long-suffering love that can only come from the broken heart of God. I’m jealous, because I know that as God prunes every productive branch so it will bear more fruit, so he uses pain to enlarge our capacity for joy (John 15:2). A heart that is limbered up in the depths can easily leap to the heights, finding delight in life’s simple pleasures — the smiling eyes of a child, running barefoot in the park, a tiny hand to hold — that uptight people regularly miss.
Learn more about Michael Wittmer's book Becoming Worldly Saints.
"Here is a book that gives testimony to our Maker and the good things He has made... Mike wants us to be worldly saints. Not flesh-driven or sinful or backslidden, but worldly in the proper sense. Saints who live and move in this world — not denying or feeling guilty for our earthly existence, but who see the misdirected idolatry of the fall in this world and who long for redemption in all its glory."
By Michael Wittmer
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