Seeking a New Thing | Sojourners

Seeking a New Thing

How we study scripture is as important as that we study it. Look not for quick answers, or preachable ideas, but for the big questions, the ones that make us pause, doubt our wisdom, that tear us open to hear, that touch a virginal place that wants to give birth. Take these questions into a Bible study group, or prayer, or while exercising. Live the questions toward the larger answers they portend. Refuse a quick spiritual fix. Demand that God speak to you through these texts (not through my words). Wrestle the dark angel till it blesses you.

April 5: The Vision Revealed

Isaiah 43:16-21, Philippians 3:8-14, John 12:1-8

The philosopher A. N. Whitehead once remarked that it can take a thousand years for a really new idea to make its way, given human resistance. Exodus--now that was truly new: For the first time a divine being siding, not with the mighty, but the powerless, not with masters, but slaves (Isaiah 43:16-17). But now, 800 years after the exodus, Isaiah declares, God is about to do a new thing! It will be 600 years before that new thing is manifest in Jesus, and then it takes millennia just to begin to be heard. Write: What is the "new thing" God is still trying to do in our time? Why does humanity resist it so? If you are in a group, share.

The "old thing" included Israel's nonviolence at the cost of Yahweh's violence at the Red Sea. The "new thing" involves, among other things, a restored creation, a peaceable ecosystem (Isaiah 43:19b-20). Has Yahweh become nonviolent? Is such a vision as Isaiah's illusionary? Can human beings learn to live peaceably and ecologically responsible? Realistically, how much dare we hope for?

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Sojourners Magazine April 1992
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