Typology is important because it brings Jesus into every aspect of our life. It allows us to intellectually discern and holistically cultivate what is already intuitive for anyone who loves Christ, namely, that Jesus has everything to do with all of our life. My goal with this book is to show how typology, rather than being an academics only conversation, is a tool that will change everything for anyone who would consider it.
When Jonathan Edwards began to see the world around him through a lens of typology, he observed that “the appearance of every thing was altered; there seemed to be, as it were, a calm sweet cast, or appearance of divine glory, in almost every thing. God’s excellency, his wisdom, his purity and love, seemed to appear in every thing; in the sun, moon, and stars; in the clouds, and blue sky; in the grass, flowers, trees; in the water, and all nature.”
My prayer is that, like Edwards, we would all experience this kind of awakening, that the appearance of every thing in our life would be “altered.” I am convinced that humans were created to experience the presence and character of Jesus in everything, in the highs and lows, and to therefore experience real joy. If we miss Jesus we miss everything. As Augustine has famously said, our hearts are restless til they find their rest in Christ (to paraphrase). And likewise, our responsibilities and our passions are meaningless unless they have everything to do with the one whom our hearts were designed to enjoy.
I want to extend an invitation to pursue Jesus in all your pursuits, to discover him in everything new, and to never be satisfied or amazed with anything unless it has everything to do with him.
The most inspiring people to us – the people who have Netflix documentaries made about them – are the people who are convinced that life is deeply meaningful. They are the people who are utterly passionate about what they do, whether it is shoe design, architecture, or cooking ramen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is perhaps one of the most inspiring American authors of all time. His essay “Self-Reliance” has empowered countless people to be themselves with boldness and to pursue their dreams. His essay “Nature” likewise teaches us to take ourselves and our world seriously, to not flounder through our day like a fish trying to get back into the water.
These are the people who move us, the ones who believe humans were created to flourish, and who believe that life – though it may be full of atrocity and evil – is anything but mundane.
These people inspire us because deep down we know that life is meaningful. People are right to be passionate. People are right to live accordingly and to savor the extraordinary world around them. Yet, there is an unspeakably important question to be asked: if life is meaningful, then what does it mean? If all things by their nature speak and point and inspire, then what is it all for?
Think of it another way.
Every one thing is made up of multiple parts. A table is made up of its legs, the table-top, the leaf, and whatever hardware is necessary. But one leg of the table can itself be thought of as one single whole which can be broken down into smaller strips of wood. And the whole table is also one of many pieces that come together to create a room, and multiple rooms come together to make a house, and houses make a neighborhood, etc. Everything scales up and down infinitely through the vehicle of unity of parts. As more and more things unite there is a greater whole. As oceans and continents are considered together there is a planet, and planets together create a solar system.
Eventually you must put everything in existence together, consider it, and ask, what does it mean? What is the entirety of the universe saying?
Eastern spirituality refers to the thing at the very center of the universe as the sound “om” or “aum.” Om contains all the power of the universe. Many will chant the word to bring about an awareness and attentiveness to the universe. It is as if this one sound encapsulates all of reality. What is within om is reproduced an infinite number of times to create life as we know it. There is nothing you can see or experience in the world that is not somehow a reflection of om, according to many eastern spiritual traditions.
Christianity is actually very similar in that the Scripture teaches that all things come from the Logos or the “Word”. Everything you can experience with your five senses, according to quite plain New Testament teaching, is intimately connected with the Logos; he is the source and also the archetype. All things are created by, through, and for the Logos. The Logos upholds all things. All things reflect the Logos. Just as eastern spirituality calls for meditation on aum to gain an awareness, so Christianity calls for disciples to meditate on the Word and to come to understand how all things find their fullness in Christ.
But the message of Scripture utterly contrasts eastern spirituality in another sense; both Old and New Testament reveal the Logos as a person, as Jesus, as someone who has a Spirit and as someone you can get to know for yourself. Aum is not a person.
I find much that is compelling about eastern spirituality. The emphasis on slowing down and savoring, meditating, and living attentive to each moment are fundamental to human flourishing. Yet life is about love and relationship, not about ideas or an impersonal sound. This is why I find the Teaching of Scripture (the Logos) much more compelling than eastern spirituality (aum); at the center of the universe is Love Himself (as C.S. Lewis liked to refer to Jesus), not an impersonal sound, regardless of how beautiful it may be.
Yet I believe there is much to learn from our eastern friends. Life is indeed about paying attention to what is at the center of the universe. Life is about connecting with the Source. I find that Christians (at least the Western ones (including myself)) tend to lack the ability to slow down and meditate, and to think about the meaning of the simple things. This is where typology lends itself to what is perhaps a deficiency in our Western mindset.
Jesus often taught us to consider. “Consider the lilies.” Slow down and meditate. Jesus didn’t teach us to take our eyes off the world around us and think about the kingdom of heaven. Rather, Jesus told us to pay attention to the physical world around us and consider what it teaches us about his spiritual kingdom, because “the kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed” and “the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant.”
Typology teaches us how to understand all of our reality as pointing to the Logos, to the Son of God, to Jesus. Typology teaches us how to commune with “the Bread of life” when we eat. Typology teaches us to whisper “thank you” to “the Light of the World” every time we turn a light on in a room.
The human condition, according to Scripture, is a deeply profound separation between God and people. People were designed to live in the energy of thankfulness. Thankfulness is much more than counting your blessings; thankfulness is a recognition that God is present in everything you experience with your five senses. Thankfulness is the recognition that everything is given by God the Father, and that God, in everything he gives, has the agenda of a Father who is pursuing his children. That is the meaning (the Teaching) that is in every moment.
“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:16-17).
If we think that the good things in our life do not have everything to do with the Teaching that God is a good Father who loves us, then we are deceived.
When we wake up and enjoy coffee and breakfast, when we are satisfied with hard work, when we are shaped through challenges and hardships, when we are bitter about traffic, when we are excited by a new relationship – when we do these things and do not recognize the Father who has given us these things because he loves us, we are deceived.
Doing typology, in contrast, brings everything into perspective; it brings everything into the light of Jesus, who is the reality that God has always had a Beloved Son. Jesus is the reality, the Logos, the message, and the Teaching that God has always existed in a flourishing relationship of a Loving Father and his Beloved Son. To reject Jesus is to miss the Truth about our world. If you miss Jesus, you miss everything.
“This is my Beloved Son, listen to him.”