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For, In, From, and By
A single preposition can make a world of difference.
“Great,” you’re saying, “a grammar lesson!”
The title drew you in. I’m certain of it.
And the subtitle to this newsletter brought forth a “Whoa, Nellie!” You’ve never been more excited.
Brace yourself. Here comes a flood of knowledge. Prepare to be overwhelmed.
The lesson is this: if you’re a student of the Bible, if you’re looking for insight, pay attention to the little words, those we call prepositions. With. For. In. Of. On. By. From. Words like that.
Paul uses those words. Let’s sample a few. He uses them quite meaningfully in Galatians.
In Galatians 1:4, Pauls claims Jesus “gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age.”
In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
In Galatians 3:26, Paul writes, “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”
In Galatians 5:1, Paul states, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
In Galatians 5:16, Paul says we are to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh,” and in Galatians 5:25 Paul adds, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
Paul tells us that through the work of Jesus Christ, we have been rescued and redeemed from the power of sin, evil, and death. We are in Christ, and redeemed for freedom. We have faith by the power of the Spirit. We now walk with the Spirit as followers of Christ.
Those little words. They pack a lot in.
I finished The Overstory by Richard Powers. Some swoon over this book. I won’t do that. Fans have raved about the character development. But more than that, those celebrating this book enjoy what this story teaches about the natural world, and specifically about trees.
But Powers’ pantheism and Gaia-worship, threaded throughout this book, is too much for me. I’ve long thought about the intersection between Christian faith and conservation. I love the created order, because I believe in a Creator God. And I have deep convictions about stewardship, believing strongly that Christians in civic leadership, politicians, policy-makers and the like, as well business leaders and all citizens, should think carefully and deeply about how best to care for land and animal life. I’m also sensitive to justice related issues that intersect with environmental stewardship.
I also thought the book ended on a real downer, even though I think it was Powers’ intention to leave us standing in a tension. One of the characters, a woman who is most in touch with the natural environment, advocates for humanity to heal the planet by death and suicide. I don’t think that is the answer. Another character realizes that human life is enhanced and made possible through the sacrifices of the natural order, through the gifts given by forests and wildlife, that we are care-takers of one another, that there must be some kind of balance if we are to survive. But that point is less clear than is the self-loathing, the despair that suggests humankind is doomed, even if the planet is not.
Sights and Sounds
I’m listening to Jimmy McGriff’s “Soul Sugar” while drafting the newsletter; I shared my April playlist.
I’ll probably go see Sonic the Hedgehog 2 this weekend.
Before I go, standard copy.
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Be well this week. Bless others.
P.S. - The spring campaign is now through three games, with five more to go.