Tag Archives: creation

The Humility of Interdependence

To grasp the depth of the humility that infuses authentic evangelism, it is helpful to explore human identity and the nature of sin. Though these are vast subjects, there are a few basic things that are important for our understanding of evangelism.

From the very beginning, God’s creative process has been a practice of separating and joining. God separates the light from the darkness to create day and night, and joins all the waters together into one place to create dry land. In like fashion, human identity is formed as we navigate a process of separating and joining. We become most fully who we are, not when we reach independence, but when we understand our interdependence and recognize that we are both separate and connected to those around us. As Miroslav Volf has said, “The boundaries that mark our identities are both barriers and bridges.”

Though God desires us to discover our interdependence, the reality of human sin makes us more inclined to focus on our independence. If we think of God’s creative process as separating and joining, there is a meaningful sense in which sin disconnects what God has bound together and unites what God has separated. It disrupts God’s pattern of interdependence, making us estranged from one another and from God.

Yet as Christians, we believe in the one God of Abraham. A significant point flowing from that is reflected in the Scripture passage that began this session – the belief that all of humanity will receive God’s blessings. Through Abraham, all the families of the earth will be blessed. N. T. Wright calls this “God’s covenant-with-Abraham-for-the-blessing-of-all.” It signals that in keeping this promise, God plans to redeem the overarching situation of estrangement that affects every human being.

Considering these ideas about identity and sin, cultivating humility as an essential value of evangelism involves remembering Jesus’ remarkable practice of both renaming and remaking. He renamed people and things that had been falsely labeled unclean, thus reconnecting people and things that sin had wrongly separated. (Mark 7:14-23) Jesus also remade people and things. He took truly unclean things and made them clean through forgiveness, spiritual transformation, and healing. In this way, Jesus tore down barriers created by wrongdoing. (Mark 5:1-20, Mark 2:15-17)

The humility that lies at the heart of all evangelism is rooted in an acute awareness of the reality of sin in our world. We recognize the brokenness and woundedness that marks human life. We confess that we are no more immune to that brokenness than anyone else, whether within or outside the church. We acknowledge we are unable to redeem our situation of estrangement. We admit we are unable to rename or remake ourselves.

This humility undergirds our way of being in the world and is vividly illustrated in the metaphor of embrace, particularly in open arms. When we open our arms to initiate embrace we indicate a desire for the other; they signal that, “I want you to be part of who I am and I want to be part of you.” Open arms point to the deeper truth that a void exists because of the absence of the other. In signaling desire, our open arms also show that in a real sense the other is somehow already present to fill the void, even before an embrace occurs.

The messages of open arms are significant for evangelism and the humility that is an essential value. Open arms point to the void created by the absence of some from the divinely promised one family of Abraham. They indicate that the boundaries surrounding the one family of Abraham have been made passable and that there is an invitation to shared life, which flows in two directions

Embracing God Who Creates


Creation is never an extra in Christian faith; it is foundational. All else moves outward from there. That idea is not always as obvious as it should be. It is easy to flip things around and think of God as the Redeemer who also creates, rather than as the Creator who also redeems. But that would be a mistake borne of placing ourselves at the center of the universe, rather than the one who truly belongs there – God.

God creates.

God redeems.

Christian faith is deepened and enriched when we get the order right. This is especially true in the arena of evangelism, where our focus is often on individuals and our fervent hope that they might come into relationship with Jesus Christ. There is no doubt this is an extremely important focus. Yet, where we begin a journey often has a significant impact on where we find ourselves at the end. Thus, where we begin our thinking about evangelism is very important.

The faith we receive when we encounter Jesus Christ is faith in a Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of course, the second person of the Trinity is vital; but our creeds remind us of the order: we believe in the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. Starting there widens the scope of redemption considerably – it is indeed good news for all creation.

When the essence of evangelism, those values that lie beneath our practices, rests firmly on an understanding of our Triune God, there will be a consistent ethos, a “way of being in the world,” that colors all our efforts, regardless of where we live or the distinctive aspects of our culture.

As Christians, we worship a creating, redeeming, sustaining God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the God who redeems not only human beings, but the entirety of creation, which Paul tells us is even now groaning as God continues to work within it for God’s redemptive purposes.

We worship a creating, redeeming, sustaining God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – the God who is working, even now, to eliminate evil and bring to fruition the justice and peace of the kingdom inaugurated in Jesus of Nazareth. It is this God who creates. It is this God who redeems.


Adapted from Dr. Kim Reisman’s “Embrace” faith-sharing study.