What I described to you in chapter one was a major change in perspective for me. This is sometimes known as a paradigm shift. My favorite example of a paradigm shift is found in the story of Nicolaus Copernicus. Nicolaus Copernicus was a 16th century mathematician and astronomer who proposed a model of the universe which was very different than the one accepted in his day.
First the Kingdom part 16, The Paradigm Shift
The title of this podcast is a fancy word phrase used in science that is definitely not found in the bible. I find that sometimes biblical words become so worn out over time that a modern term can actually refresh their true meaning. Repentance, for example is not a word often used today in modern conversation. It is common today to think more in terms of regret or being sorrowful for our actions.
Repentance can include those emotions, but the original meaning has more to do with a change in our thinking. I like paradigm shift because it describes a major change in how we think because the very framework from which we reason has changed. A good example is in what is called the Copernican Revolution. In the sixteenth century scientists believed in the Ptolemaic system which placed the earth at the center of the universe, with the sun, moon, planets and stars revolving around it. What we know now as planets were thought to be “wandering stars” because their perceived orbit around the earth was irregular.
Then Copernicus challenged this theory and proposed that the earth was not the center, but one of several bodies that revolved around our sun. After many years his theory was accepted and everything changed about the way the universe was understood.
When Jesus came preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, he came with a challenge to change the way we think, the way we feel, and ultimately how we live. He did not just tell everyone what to do, but He introduced the real reason for doing right. It is time to recognize the kingdom or reign of God over us all. He is the only reason we are here, and the only purpose we have for being! And that IS good news! Why? Because since we began to make up our own reasons and plans, there has been nothing but turmoil in this world. Only those who hear the Word of God and live under His authority find their true place among the sun, moon, planets and stars that He created!
Everything about this series of teachings is because of the paradigm shift, or change in our thinking that God intends for our good. From the beginning it was His plan for us to reflect His character and to rule the earth in His right ways. He has not given up on that plan, in spite of how things might look. Too often in Christianity we only look back at the fall, and then to the Cross where the sins of the fall are forgiven. It is hard for us to remember the purpose that God had before the fall, and to look for the time when that purpose is fulfilled in us and in this earth. It is of course about our need to be redeemed from the fall, but more importantly it is about satisfying God’s desire for us! He still wants to have people to bear His image and fully reflect His nature and character!
While the problem of sin should not be minimized, the solution that God provided in Jesus Christ has more than eclipsed that problem! There is a paradigm that seems to see the problem of sin and rebellion as almost too great for God to solve. Even in popular culture the outlook is becoming so pessimistic that total annihilation seems inevitable. Will God scrap His original plan and start over with a few as He did in Noah’s day? Scripture in some places seem to be saying that, but in each case the context must be considered.
One reason for my optimism is that after over 2,000 years, the Gospel continues to change lives. Jesus is no longer with us in person as a man, but He continues to melt the hardest of hearts. Faith and courage are everywhere, and even more so when resistance is met. The most powerful reason however comes from the living Word of God. His Word has burned into my heart and mind a view of His power, goodness, lordship and love that will not allow me to give up on His purpose! Once my eyes were opened, the evidence became overwhelming!
For the past 200 years a dark, depressing, pessimistic view of the future has prevailed in many churches. I believe it is more born of great and terrible events like 2 world wars, the Great Depression, and the atomic age, than from the Bible. The Bible gives us the true picture of our desperate situation, of course. It also is honest about the things we as humans bring upon ourselves. At the same time it tells of a God and Savior Who sees past the failures of humanity, and Who has sufficient love, grace and power to perform His good will towards us.
Isn’t it terrific that the universe does not revolve around me, my faults, my virtues, my abilities? Isn’t it a relief that fate of the world does not rest upon my shoulders or your shoulders? In fact the universe and the history of the world begins and ends with God who is pure and perfect love, and always sufficient in every situation.
It is my hope that the prevailing paradigm of doom and despair will be replaced with a new paradigm of hope, not only for me and my little circle of family and friends. Christ died for us all. In this hopeful view we are empowered to do great things by the power of God! Jesus Himself said that we could do even greater works than He did 2,000 years ago! Let us hear what the Holy Spirit of God is saying to us today. Let us cast aside the dark future that Satan has in mind and press forward against all odds because in Christ we are more than conquerors through Him and His love!
Listen to the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans:
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
(Romans 11:33-12:2 NASB)
My belief is that the Holy Spirit of God is in the process of drawing us nearer to Him, convincing us to offer ourselves more completely to His purpose. In this way we are empowered to be different from the unbelieving world, having minds that are renewed by His living Word! We are becoming literally transformed into His very image, to demonstrate the Kingdom of heaven here on earth, proving His good, acceptable and perfect will to all!
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