New NIV Update

The NIV 2011 update was just released, and it seems like it’s made some significant improvements. I’m sure a lot of this will be hashed out in the coming weeks, but my initial impressions are very positive. I love what they have done with 2 Corinthians 5.17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

Compare with the NRSV:

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!

ESV (my translation of choice, though not in this passage):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

The Greek (if you care):

ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις: τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά:

My translation would be something of a combination of these three, but I am really liking the new NIV.

What’s God Doing?

Here is something to stew over: What exactly is God trying to accomplish in this world? It’s a loaded question, and one that I think deserves some serious thought. That question has been bouncing around in my mind for a couple weeks now, and has even come up in several conversations independent of one another. I have been brewing over what it means for a Christian to be “missional.” In trying to articulate the disciples’ mission as followers of the Messiah in this world, the question of God’s mission has come to the surface as the necessary background to address what it means for us to be missional.

In a lot of ways, across the whole theological spectrum, we have either over-simplified it or made it into a murky, muddled mess. The two answers that come to mind most readily are that: (1) God wants humans to have a close, intimate, personal relationship with him (this is most frequently articulated in terms of a romantic relationship). My problem with this option is that this kind of language is seldom used in Scripture; (2) God is interested in establishing justice on earth (this is most often articulated in terms of whatever social issues seem to be most prevalent in the public sphere at the time). While this seems a little more desirable than the “close personal relationship” description (at least the language is used in Scripture), it still doesn’t cut it for me. The way it is often articulated ignores key theological themes like justification, righteousness, and reconciliation; (3) A third option is generally not one that is articulated in words, and no theologian would hold to this idea, but it gets lived out in the daily milieu of church life: that God wants to establish an isolated community of nice people that get a particular set of doctrines right.

I’m beginning to develop some thoughts, but I’ll save those for later. I will say that a natural place to turn (in my estimation) are the Prophets, and the Gospels. But even that assertion is heavy and loaded. I’ll unpack it later. But for now, the words of Jesus:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

A Prayer attributed to St. Francis:

Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.