Read: Rivalry or Reconciliation?
We do not go far into the biblical narrative before we run into an essential truth–one that if missed will skew everything else: God does not operate on our terms. When the fallen world is in charge, the rich, famous, and powerful are the heroes . When God is in charge, the “weaker ones” are most often people God chooses to use.
I put “weaker ones” in quotes only to make it clear that we are the ones who categorize, hierarchialize, and stigmatize. When God looks at the world everyone is a beloved son or daughter–a human being made in the image of God, just a little lower than the angels (Gen 1:26, Ps 8:5). With this identity, ever person is precious and contributive to God.
But it takes a new set of eyes and ears to recognize this. If we want to go with God’s flow, we must repent (look at life in a new way) and convert (make a 180° turn). In this way we participate in the divine reversal rather than work against it.
But, as McLaren clearly shows, this is no easy change. In fact, it is the hardest thing we ever do, because it means an undermining of egotism (e.g. Jacob’s limp) and the adoption of a humility only grace can provide (e.g. Joseph with his brothers).
Centuries later, when the early Christians entered a new town, the people there said, “Those who have turned the world upside down have come here” (Acts 17:6). But the fact is, they turned it rightside up from the inversion which sin gave it. What looked at first glance like an overturning was actually an uprighting when seen from God’s perspective.
If we are willing to let God first turn us upside down (so that sin no longer reigns), actually setting us rightside up (so that we see life God’s way), we will find that from then on, every divine reversal is a restoration–a movement from darkness to light–from death to life.