So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them: "I'm here to introduce you to this God.... He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him!" ~Acts 17
The “natural order,” for our God, is bringing impossibly different people together and calling them “family.”
The story of Scripture, the story of God is, in many ways, about the creation of a profoundly “unnatural order,” where Gentiles eat with Jews, where tax collectors and prostitutes mingle with religious know-it-alls, where gender biases are abolished, where last become first and first become last, where sinners and saints embrace realizing they are one and the same, where every tribe and tongue is brought together by the one God who made and loves them all.
And this is what gives me hope, whether I’m anxiously glancing at the refugee crisis across the pond and wondering how things will unfold here in Canada, or I’m thinking about families I know and love that have kids with different colored skin and ethnic backgrounds. On a purely pragmatic level, it makes no sense to throw all this difference together in families and churches and cities and nations and expect it all to end well. On a purely pragmatic level, we should expect conflict and identity crises and scarcity and pain. On a purely pragmatic level, people should stay where they belong. On a purely pragmatic level, we should cling to what is safe and predictable, and “natural.”
But, as followers of Jesus, we have been liberated from looking at things on a purely pragmatic level. As followers of Jesus, we are free to imagine families, churches, cities and nations that struggle and strain and stretch toward the glorious reality of God’s unnatural order.