Recently I asked the students in one of my theology classes to retell the biblical account of the fall of Jericho. They got the basics of the story ju...moreRecently I asked the students in one of my theology classes to retell the biblical account of the fall of Jericho. They got the basics of the story just fine – Israelites returning from slavery, walking around the walls and the walls come tumbling down. Pressed for more, they recalled the story of Rahab. Pushed for even more details they described just how the Israelites silently walked along the walls except on the last day. When I told them there was something still missing from their account, some students resorted to memories of a Veggie Tales videos… Not one of the students remembered that all the inhabitants of the city were to be slaughtered. Young and old, male and female – even the livestock were to die. It’s not what we want to think about. It’s not part of the story that ever made it on to the flannel board when I was a kid in Sunday School.
As good Christians we tend to ignore parts of the Bible that leave us a little uncomfortable. We don’t want to think about Achan’s family also being stoned for their father/husband’s sin. Yet, in his book Bound Together, Pastor Chris Brauns takes these accounts head-on and explains how stories such as this in the Bible actually point to a larger truth about sin and redemption.
Pastor Brauns introduces us to the “principle of the rope – the simple truth that our lives, choices and actions are linked to the lives, choices and actions of other people.” (page 25) Its an uncomfortable truth, but true nonetheless. We all find ourselves dealing with the consequences in which the actions of others have placed us. In our representative form of government, this happens all the time. I did not vote for President Obama, but his choices and actions surely have an effect on me. I did not choose the family I was born into, but the actions of my parents sure have played a huge role in my life and development and will continue down to my children and grandchildren. Today as I type this review, the entire nation is grappling with the evil plans of unknown bombers from Boston. Those in Jericho suffered the consequences of being bound together with the sinful choices of others.
We are bound together in solidarity with entire human race. We all trace our roots back to the same person standing naked in the garden with a little bit of fruit still fresh on his lips. Ever since Adam, the entire human race must struggle with the actions stemming from our shared sin nature. Though we may not have been physically present with Adam or complicit in that exact sin, we suffer the consequences as guilty people. We all suffer the consequences.
“Broadly speaking, there are two consequences to Adam’s rebellion. First, Adam and all his descendants are guilty of sinning against God, and second, all of Adam’s descendants inherit a corrupted nature. This means all human beings, including babies and small children, are not innocent victims of circumstance. They are born sinners. As David confessed in Psalm 51:5, ‘Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ The problem we face as Adam’s descendants is not that we are sinners because we sin; rather we sin because we are sinners.” (Page 45)
However, there is another rope… As strong as the rope that binds to Adam and his fallen race, even stronger is the rope that binds us to Christ and his righteousness. The principle of the rope is not merely negative. The positive aspect of this principle highlights our identity in Christ Jesus. Drawing from Romans 5, Pastor Brauns shows us that though through Adam we are bound in sin and death, in Christ we are given righteousness and life. The same principle that imposes death on the human race also grants salvation to all who believe.
“The blessing of God’s love is greater than the curse of sin. The negative and positive applications of the principle of the rope are not symmetrical. Our solidarity in Christ is more powerful than our solidarity in sin with Adam.” (page 84)
The principle of the rope not only helps to see the metanarrative of Scripture is a clearer light, but it also helps us see our personal struggles and difficulties in a clearer light. In the second half of the book Pastor Chris applies this principle to issues such as marriage, families, death, and culture.
This is a book I wish I could hand to every family. As someone who works with children each day, I wish parents could see the effect their decisions have upon their children. Somehow some parents have managed to delude themselves into thinking their divorce will have no effect on their children since both parents plan to remain active. Yet, they fail to recognize their selfishness is not only seen by their children but in many ways is imitated by their children. Likewise, I wish children saw how their actions affect their siblings and even their parents.
Of course, I also greatly appreciate the strong emphasis on the local church. The principle of the rope demands that we associate ourselves with a community of believers. In fact, in the last chapter, Pastor Brauns argues the only thing that can truly combat our age of radical individualism is the local church.
This book would be a valuable addition to your library. I would urge you to get your copy and read it soon.
Disclaimer: This book was provided by the publisher for review. I was under no obligation to offer a favorable review.(less)