A brief excerpt from Mark Labberton’s new book:
While on a long flight, I opened some music I had recently downloaded but not yet heard. It was a recording of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played by Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. The piece, intense and passionate, has been very important to me over the years. I hadn’t noticed that this recording included a short video excerpt of Bell and the orchestra during a recording session, playing an especially dramatic passage. When I opened the file, the video suddenly began to play.
Surprised, I was at once so fully captured and moved by what I saw and heard that it was like I fell into a trance. When it finished, I was breathless. I immediately wanted to ask the flight attendant if I could use the microphone to tell everyone that my life had just been changed. In those three short minutes, I watched and heard what human flourishing means.
On the video, all the musicians, dressed in street clothes reflecting individual backgrounds and personalities, added their particular instrument to the symphonic whole. Each was essential. Each was doing in that moment something very few others could do but that he or she did exceptionally well. Bell, one of the finest violinists in the world, conducted the whole, while also brilliantly playing his exquisite part of Vivaldi’s piece. The flourishing was in both the parts and the whole, the individuals and the community. . . .
The God made known in Scripture and incarnate in Jesus Christ desires flourishing people in a flourishing world. This is God’s intent and commitment, and God created humans to flourish by co-laboring with him in that endeavor. Sadly, the narrative of the Bible includes how God’s divine desire is subverted by the very human beings God created as partners to reflect God’s image and steward creation. Even more, however, it tells the long story of how God relentlessly pursues us in faithfulness and love. God shares with us, out of the flourishing communion of Father, Son and Spirit, the overflow that is our hope and salvation.
You and I are to be the tangible evidence of God’s intent for and pursuit of the world today. You and I. Together. The church. This is our calling as followers of Jesus. We are to fulfill the calling of all humanity and thus point to the true purpose of human life. The Word made flesh in Jesus Christ should show through us. We are meant to be primary evidence of the flourishing love, grace and truth in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.