When Ought-ness Cries Out

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“Cursed is the ground because of you…By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:17-19

In 1915 a young Milwaukee couple built a beautiful house on a new boulevard of fine new homes that, in the words of one historian, represented an image of comfortable bourgeois prosperity. Hand-built with the finest of German craftsmanship, the original home had fine detail, leaded stained-glass windows, hardwood floors, and built-in oak cabinets.

One hundred years later, rife with mold, water damage, broken windows, and a leaky roof, that same house is but a shell of its original beauty, charm, and craftsmanship. Yet something of the original intent and beauty, obscured amidst the ruin, beckoned rescue and restoration from its state of dilapidation, emptiness, and decay. The “oughtness” of the old house cried out.

The first two chapters of Genesis unfold the creation of the world and the human race. With great poignancy, the text says that God saw what he had made and “it was good.” And, finally, of the whole creation: “It was very good.” This one word good sums up the beauty, excellence, harmony, perfection, and flourishing of the whole creation. Man and woman, the crown of creation, were naked yet unashamed. They showed a pure and holy innocence as they dwelt in a flourishing garden. This is the way things ought to be, as God intended.

In Genesis 3, sin and brokenness enter through the rebellion and disobedience of Adam and Eve, and the results are disastrous: Pain becomes a reality in our world—whether in work or in childbearing. Chaos is evident as the perfect harmony and beauty of Genesis 1 and 2 are ruined. Decay and death become normal in life. One word sums up the result of sin: alienation.

Things are not as they ought to be and “oughtness” cries out. Deep within our souls there is a longing for order, beauty, health, life, harmony, and reconciliation.

This longing or sense of “oughtness” points both to God’s original intent for this world and the effect that sin and rebellion have in our world—and, indeed, in our own personal lives.

PONDER: Where do you see or experience the results of sin or alienation in your personal life or community?

[SPECIAL – Watch the video or listen to the audio of Pastor Jason Webb’s sermon, “Be Reconciled to God.”]

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What Does “Reconciliation” Mean?

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To “reconcile” or bring about “reconciliation” is to restore harmony or friendship between two entities formerly divided. In the biblical tradition, reconciliation denotes the fundamental fact of a restored relationship, either between human persons, among various elements in the cosmos, or between humans and God. This biblical idea assumes that relationships have indeed been broken, as the narrative of Gen. 3 so poignantly relates. In that story, moreover, all relationships of human existence stand in need of reconciliation: relations between creatures and their Creator, gender relationships made hostile by the effects of sin, and the relationships between human creatures and the earth itself which have been marred as well by the sin of the garden.

Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible

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5 thoughts on “When Ought-ness Cries Out”

  1. Sin has indeed had a far reaching impact on our relationships. You can see it in the broken relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters, Husbands and wives and even in the midst of the church. Sin, whether in the form of greed, envy, indifference has the potential to distort every good thing that God has given us. We must not cease to believe that God will make all things good for those who love him and are called to his purpose. We need to humble ourselves, seek God’s forgiveness and turn from the path that destroys all of what is beautiful and excellent in God’s world. It is still His world. He will indeed hear us from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive their sin, and heal their land.”

    1. (Job 33:26) ‘He shall pray unto God, and he will love him; and he shall see his face with shouts of joy; for he will render (KJV etc.) unto the man the recompense of his righteousness. 27 He looks upon men, and if any say, I have sinned and perverted that which was right, and it did not profit me; 28 God will ransom his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.’ God Almighty, El Shaddai… you promise to render your Righteousness to the penitent… to restore (NIV etc.) our Righteousness… reconcile us to your Peace, we pray… Jesus promised to reside in our faithfulness; and we in His Righteousness… even so, Yahweh-tzidkenu, Shalom, Yeshuah… Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done…

  2. Even in their oughtness man fail to realize that they need the God . It is His purpose we are here and not ourselves. So no matter how much we have or don’t have, houses, cars, money and other possessions, all these are nothing without God. A restored relationship to the creator is what we need. In my own experience when I got saved I felt a sense of unworthiness every time I went before God, and as time went by and I came to accept His love, He reminded me that I am important to Him and to love Him and serve Him faithfully.

  3. I see the results of sin and alienation in my life when I become full of myself or worldly. I see it in my community for the same reasons – worldliness and not Godliness. When I didn’t know my Bible as well as I do now (and I am still learning), I would listen to people, politicians, society and make my “informed” decisions and choices. I always got into trouble and made a mess of things. The stress was terrible. Then in one terrible situation, where I thought I couldn’t take anymore, scripture told me what I needed to do. Now it seems that I make better choices being led by Grace. I am recognizing my sinful nature more clearly…the big things are easy…it’s the subtle, seemingly sneaky ones…that are harder. But because God is showing me these things through his scriptures, I am better prepared and therefore more at peace with how I am trying to live my life for HIM. Maybe then, I can be a better Christian in the world, too.

  4. Father, in the beginning you said that your creation, was “very good”. Everything was perfect, beautiful and harmonized. Father I long for the restoration of “very good”…
    Lord Jesus, when I wasn’t looking, when my thoughts were opposite of yours, when I was sitting as your enemy, you took the initiative to make a way for my restoration back to your, “very good”.
    Holy Spirit, only your guidance can get me through this world where decay and death have become normal, thank you for your message of reconciliation. Spirit of God, please show me what must be restored in my personal life so that I can experience the “very good” of God,…
    Lord God, your promise of complete restoration has created a deep longing for your original intention for my life. Lord I pray, please make it “very good” again… Maranatha!!!
    Lord God of the “very good”, the season of obedience is here…

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