January 5, 2007

Place as a Theological Concept

Yesterday, I wrote about the sense of place I am developing in my new home, imagining myself creating a future and a past here. But as I thought about the idea more overnight and today, and then when I read one of the comments from yesterday's post, I realized this idea needs more attention.

As a believer, if this world is not my home, what am I doing getting all cozy here?

I won't even try to cover all the nuances of this question in one post, but here is a place to get us started. From Acts 17:26: "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live."

If nothing else, we can rest in the knowledge that God has placed us where we live according to his sovereign will. Surely we can grow comfortable with that idea.

Any thoughts?

7 comments:

VERRAY** said...

PREACH IT SISTER! I LOVE TODAYS WORDS OF WISDOM, AS THEY HIT VERY CLOSELY TO HOME. LIVE IN THE WORLD, BUT NOT OF IT. GOD HAS OUR PATHS LAYED OUT...INCLUDING WHERE WE LIVE. MAY WE USE OUR HOMES TO GLORIFY HIM!

L.L. Barkat said...

I like Psalm 87:6, where it says that God records, registers the peoples... "This one was born there." Not just born, but born there, as if it had something important to do with our identity.

And I'm thinking that also confers some kinds of special responsibilities for us, where we are, where we touch this earth.

Rich said...

Charity, great to see you posting so much lately. In my opinion, a sense of place certainly accords with our creaturely status and with our destiny of inhabiting a restored and renewed creation in resurrection glory. The goal of all things is not an ethereal heaven inhabited by disembodied spirits, but a new heaven and new earth full of resurrection glory because of the incarnation of God in Christ. As such, our sense of place in this world is an echo of what is to come in greater fullness. Thus, the importance of creating a sense of the sacred - not just in the mind, but in place, form, art, etc. It is easy to forget that the movement of God in history is not from material to spiritual (or, concrete to abstract) but from spiritual to material (abstract to concrete, with the fullest manifestation of this being the enfleshment of God in Christ). God has sanctified matter in and through the incarnation. Matter is good - and thus, place, sounds, smells, etc. are good also. Anyway, that's my two cents. By the way, for an interesting statement about how we are shaped by place, check out Pauly's comments about the meathouse in Rocky Balboa.

Anonymous said...

Charity, Good thoughts. I think I track pretty closely with what Rich is saying here. God did make us human and creatures of dust. Even as those glorified in Jesus, all creation will share with us in this glorification (Romans 8). When the new heaven and the new earth come together.

Yes. We feel out of place here, since we're in a world that is not in line with God, as to the people and "kingdoms" in it. But we're also in a world that is created by God and is good, though partaking of the curse. God's redemption in Christ includes everything. So I think our attachment to place on this earth is not unspiritual or outside of God's good will and plan for us. It is ongoing in someway, surely....

Thanks for bringing this up, and letting us think on it. And for your thoughts.

Erin said...

Ah!
Now I know who you are! :)
LL sent me here and I can tell this round of SoulPerSuit is going to be good. Your comments have knocked my socks off a time or two...

Ok, now to go read what you actually WROTE here...

Charity Singleton said...

Thanks for sharing all these wonderful thoughts, everyone. From the Psalmist recording the birthplaces of people to our hope of a physical future for eternity. These have been really helpful to me.

Verray, as a fellow new-home-owner, it's important to me that God not only received my change of address cards but actually made them for me. This is too big of a responsibility to be in it alone.

Ted -- I also appreciated the reminder from your comment that the tension I feel between belonging yet not belonging is part of the mystery of the gospel, along the lines of the already/not yet conflict in scripture.

Charity Singleton said...

Here's another angle to finding our place on earth. Even the Israelites, who had such a connection to the land God gave them in Zion, were told in Jeremiah to make a home for themselves in Babylon during the exile. In Jer. 29:5-7 (the section BEFORE the more famous verse 11), we read: "Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."

Even though living in a fallen world sometimes feels like an exile of its own, God still wants us to accept our place in it, to build homes and gardens, and to pray for its wellbeing.

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