Thursday, March 20, 2008

Redeem -- Hope Chronicles 26

I love words. I love stringing them together to create meaning. I love beautifully crafted sentences that make me pause and read them again. For good or evil, words also have power. I try -- though I don't always succeed -- to be careful with my words.

Perhaps it is my love affair with words that makes my heart trill over the opening of the book of John. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." Jesus is the Word. God spoke and the world was created. I love that.

Our language (individually and as a culture) show us what is important to us. Did you know that the Eskimos have 32 different words for our single word "snow"? Thirty-two! I can only think of a handful of words that have to do with snow: snow, flurries, sleet, freezing rain, blizzard. Four to five words (depending on how you count "freezing rain") compared to thirty-two. That speaks volumes as to the centrality and importance of snow to the Eskimos.

I'm always fascinated to learn the original Greek or Hebrew word for something. As with the Eskimos, sometimes there are multiple words for something we lump into one word. What is it that makes English or American culture just lump things together or always look for the short cut. Here's my anguished prediction, in a matter of years, we are going to completely de-evolve into just using letters as if we were texting -- bff, lol, dml, and xyz!

This week God has had me thinking about the word "redeem." From a purely cultural/secular standpoint, what do you most readily think of redeeming. Coupons was what I first came up with. And what do they usually have written on them. "Not redeemable for cash" or "No cash value." In other words, it is only good for this one particular item on this particular time and probably you have to buy two or more . . . .

But that is so far from God's perspective on redemption. Christians may know this, but does it ever impact our view or use of the word "redeem"?

I looked up redeem on the internet. Here is some of what I found:

  • to exchange for money or goods
  • to discharge or fulfill (as in a pledge)
  • to make up for; to make amends
  • to obtain the release or restoration of, as from captivity, by paying a ransom.
  • to deliver from sin and its consequences by means of a sacrifice offered for the sinner.

The last two -- release from captivity and deliver via a means of sacrifice for a sinner -- both closely fit the Christian concept of redemption. We are released from the captivity of sin. Jesus was the sacrifice on our behalf.

I don't know the Greek or Hebrew for it. But I think even those two definitions are somewhat lacking. Yes, there is a release paid for by a sacrifice. But more than that, I think it is a making whole of something that was splintered and fragmented. Our relationship with God was splintered and fragmented. Jesus brings us back into a "whole" relationship with God.

To be truthful, it is probably a "becoming" because we probably couldn't handle being thrust directly into God's presence at this moment. But is a "becoming" with the assurance of the the final end.

So, I have two questions to ponder. First, am I leading a "whole/redeemed" life? Second, am I helping those around me to lead that kind of life?

One of my favorite quotes from CS Lewis is this:

"It is a serious thing to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship or else a horror and a corruption such as you meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long, we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of those overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealing with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people."

We can have hope because we are redeemed and whole. May we be mindful to help those around us to that redeemed and whole place safe in God's hands.


Marybeth said...

Hi Amy-- thanks for alerting me to what was going on with my site! You are so kind to do that! I had no idea-- something happened when I added my newest blogroll-- still not sure what but I think I got it fixed. Go see if it comes up normal for you and let me know. Thanks!

Ann said...

I love words too! Have you ever used When you click on the blue C next to a verse, you get a concordance and the original greek or hebrew word :) The "redeem" in Galatians 4:5 is exagorazo, "by payment of a price to recover from the power of another, to ransom, buy off" Good post!