How Does the Bible Deal with our Yearnings for Beauty, Relationships, Spirituality, and Justice?
Last week I asked the question What do our longings for truth, beauty, and goodness all have in common? In his work Simply Christian, N.T. Wright, tackles this kind of question from a different angle.
According to Christian belief, God’s own Spirit offers the answer to the four questions with which this book began – questions about our yearnings for beauty, relationship, spirituality, and justice. We take them in reverse order.
God has promised that, through his Spirit, he will remake the creation so that it becomes what it is straining and yearning to be. All the beauty of the present world will be enhanced, ennobled, set free from that which at present corrupts and defaces it. Then there will appear that greater beauty for which the beauty we already know is simply an advance signpost.
God offers us, by the Spirit, a fresh kind of relationship with himself – and, at the same time, a fresh kind of relationship with our neighbors and with the whole of creation. The renewal of human lives by the Spirit provides the energy through which damaged and fractured human relationships can be mended and healed.
God offers us, through the Spirit, the gift of being at last what we know in our bones we were meant to be: creatures that live in both dimensions of his created order. The quest for spirituality now appears as a search for that coming together of heaven and earth which, deeply challenging though of course it is, is genuinely on offer to those who believe.
Finally, God wants to anticipate now, by the Spirit, a world set right, the world in which the good and joyful gift of justice has flooded creation. The work of the Spirit in the lives of individuals in the present time is designed to be another advance sign, a down payment and guarantee, as it were, of the eventual setting-rights of all things. We are “justified” in the present… in order to bring God’s justice to the world, against the day when – still up by the operation of the Spirit – the earth is filled with the knowledge of YHWH as the waters cover to see.- N. T. Wright, Simply Christian, 136