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METAPHOR, MANDATE … AND MEANING
A Synopsis of Our Story: Creation In creating, God displays beautiful harmony, wholeness, … שלוםeach person could delight in and add to the other. Genesis 1:27 - Humankind created “in his own image” … relating to (1) God, (2) humanity, (3) all of nature. Genesis 1:31 - “very good” The Fall Genesis 3:9 - sin had radically broken all relationships … separation, disintegration results. People Scattered Genesis 11 - God’s punishment included His scattering people groups. Promise Genesis 12:3 - all people groups to be blessed through Abram as God reconciles, reintegrates His creation. From here forward, God reconciling His creation through His elect, by involving humankind. These particular people were to: a. display what reconciliation looks like. b. be agent’s of God’s reconciling work to the rest of creation. But, Israel, God’s elect, pirated her privilege as a vessel of God’s reconciling love - equating election with ethnicity. God’s chosen people chose to become racist, religious, nationalists … enemies of God and demonizers of other people.
God Speaks, and Speaks, and Speaks Amos 4:1-3; 5:7, 10-12, 24 Hosea 12:6 Isaiah 1:16-17 Jeremiah 5:1 Zephaniah 2:3, 6-7 Micah 2:2; 3:1-3; 6:8, 10-12 Jonah 4:2-3 Malachi 2:16-7; 3:5 God Promises Some More God will fix everything … by involving humankind, particularly those reconciled to Him - in a new way. Isaiah 11:1-9; 52:13 - 53:12 Jeremiah 31:31-3 Ezra 11:19 God Comes and Fixes Everything God comes to all of His creation reconciling (1) humans to God, (2) humans to humans, (3) humans to nature … by involving humankind, particularly God’s image bearers reconciled to Him “in Christ” (i.e., those no longer “in Adam”). Luke 4:18-9 - the “gospel” i.e., “the good news” of the kingdom of God. Jesus’ life on earth and His teachings accentuate the excluded - the broken - those people that most need reconciliation. Jesus prefers to relate to prostitutes, tax collectors, centurions, and the “ethnically incorrect.” Jesus undermines social and racial exclusionary practices with unconditional love and embrace. In His death, resurrection, and ascension, reconciliation is accomplished. The “gospel” - Jesus reconciles all brokenness, reversing patterns of human exclusion with His embrace - seen finally in His death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus’ Summary Jesus invites all humanity into His kingdom, summing up the story to-date: Luke 10:27-8 - “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself…. Do this and you will live.” Matthew 7:12 - “So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you; for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
God Speaks, and Speaks, and Speaks E.g., 1 John. Source of reconciliation: 1 John 3:1 Seen in: 1 John 1:3-7; 2:3-6, 9-11, 29; 3:6-11, 14-18, 21-24; 4:7-8, 11-12, 19-21; 5:2 A Real Problem Yet, it is still “appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” (Martin Luther King, Jr.) Only ca. 8 % of Christian congregations in the U.S. are racially mixed to a significant degree (Protestant congregations being the least mixed). (Michael Emerson) Like our Israelite ancestors, American Christians have pirated our privilege as vessels of God’s reconciling power. God’s chosen people have chosen to become racist, nationalistic, individualists … enemies of God and demonizers of other people. Real Reflection on Racism Has Christ accomplished racial reconciliation? Has God come and fixed racism? Ephesians 1:19-23 - Yes, “in His people” (v. 18) … “the church” (v. 22). God’s victory over racism is accomplished and demonstrated in “the gospel” i.e., “the good news” of God (2 aspects of one inseparable, reconciling work): a. Reconciling humanity to God - Ephesians 2:1-10. Reconciliation being experienced in God making spiritually dead people alive - uniting people to God “in the life of Christ” to do good works…. b. Reconciling alienated human groups - Ephesians 2:11-22. Reconciliation being experienced in God uniting human groups into one body “in Christ” (Christ took racial division and hatred upon Himself and He killed it in His death).
So, being “in Christ” is to be actively enjoying who we are according to God - a new, reconciled humanity members of one body, “the church,” without ethnic or social boundaries, existing “in Christ, by the Spirit,” seeking to unite other people. Now, people “in Christ” have become “the gospel” - “the good news.”
4 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 - Christians are ambassadors for Christ, in Him, the righteousness of God. Then really … what does “the gospel” - “the good news” look like? !שלום
Reconciled Life, Here and Now Psalm 133 A assertion 1. Behold, how good and how pleasant it really is when brothers live with one another! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard Aaron’s beard, down upon the edge of his robes. Exodus 29:7; 30:25, 30; Leviticus 8:12
3a. It is like the dew of Mt. Hermon that runs down upon the mountains of Zion. Hosea 14:5; Micah 5:7; Proverbs 19:12; Psalms 48:1-2; 68:15-16 3b. For there YHWH commanded the blessing - eternal life. See verse 1; John 17:3
5 Resources Bartholomew, Craig G. and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004. Bono. Keynote Address at the 54th National Prayer Breakfast. http://www.hamoreh.org/site/resources/multimedia/details/?id=15882. Accessed January 8, 2008. Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, ed. Houston A. Baker, Jr. New York: Penguin, 1986. Emerson, Michael O. and Christian Smith. Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Emerson, Michael O. with Rodney M. Woo. People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006. George, Timothy and Robert Smith, Jr. A Mighty Long Journey: Reflections on Racial Reconciliation. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000. Gombis, Timothy G. Racial Reconciliation and the Christian Gospel. http://www.thepaulpage.com/Gombis.pdf. Accessed January 8, 2008. King, Martin Luther, Jr. Why We Can’t Wait. New York: Signet, 1964. ______. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In I Have A Dream: Writings & Speeches that Changed the World, ed. James M. Washington, 83-100. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. Okholm, Dennis L., ed. The Gospel in Black & White: Theological Resources for Racial Reconciliation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1997. Perkins, Spencer and Chris Rice. More than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel, rev. ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000. Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1996. Wittmer, Michael E. Heaven Is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004. Yee, Tet-Lim N. Jews, Gentiles and Ethnic Reconciliation: Paul’s Jewish Identity and Ephesians. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 130. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
6 Some Questions Seeking Scripture: 1. Genesis 1-3. What 3 relationships were radically broken by sin? 2. Genesis 12:1-3, etc. What has God set out to do about all broken relationships? Specifically how? 3. Amos 4:1-3; 5:7, 10-12, 24; Hosea 12:6; Isaiah 1:16-17; Jeremiah 5:1; Zephaniah 2:3, 6-7; Micah 2:2; 3:1-3; 6:8, 10; 12; Jonah 4:2-3; Malachi 2:16-7; 3:5 … what’s the big idea, here? 4. Are the promises of Isaiah 11:1-9; 52:13-53:12; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 11:19 different from the promise of Genesis 12:1-3? If so, how? 5. Has God reconciled, “fixed,” the 3 relationships that were radically broken by sin? If so, how? 6. How do we best understand the work of Jesus Christ (his coming, living, sacrificing, resurrecting, and ascending)? 7. In real terms relevant to your life’s circumstances, what does the work of Christ look like?
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