Monday, February 15, 2016

The Gospel Story: It May Not Be What You Think It Is


          There’s a great war going on. Jesus has won the decisive and climactic battle at the cross and resurrection. The outcome is no longer in doubt. Jesus is victor and Ruler of the world.

          That’s the gospel, Jesus’ gospel.

But there are still lesser battles and skirmishes to be fought and won, pockets of continuing resistance to Jesus to be rooted out. The fruit of his victory needs to be implemented and extended throughout the world till he returns.

And that’s what he calls to us today, to join him in the “mop up” campaigns just mentioned.

But there’s even more to it than that. God intended humanity to be his royal priests in the temple he intended creation to be. He made us

-royal (as his children) representatives to represent and reflect his character and will throughout the world, thus extending the boundaries of God’s creation temple from its beginning in the Garden of Eden to coextensive with the whole of creation. Earth is to be his habitation with his people forever.

-priests who are charged with protecting and nurturing the creation and it people to their full flourishing.

We, of course, chose to be our own little gods and revolted against him and his will and way for us. The great irony is that this assertion of what we believed our own proper liberty only made us vulnerable to serving other powers (sin, death, (d)evil, principalities) who had neither our good nor the creation’s well-being at heart!

God’s dream was shattered.

God never accepted this state of affairs though. He launched a subversive counter-revolution to undermine and undo what our sin and the powers who took advantage of our vulnerability to them had wrought. Beginning with Abraham and Sarah God sought to shape a people as a living demonstration, a prototype, of what he intended for everyone. Other peoples would be attracted to this way of life and come to Israel’s God to join in.

Israel was no better than Adam and Eve however. It defaulted on its mandate and mission to be the agent of God’s blessing everyone else. But God had a solution ready. He prophesied through Jeremiah that a new covenant was coming. One which would succeed where the covenants with Abraham, Moses, and David has so far failed.

This time God did not send or work through another. He came himself in, with, through, and as Jesus of Nazareth. This had always been God’s intention for his heart’s desire was always to be in as close a fellowship with his human creatures as possible. And what’s closer than becoming one of them? But now his coming in human flesh also had to resolve the sin problem generated by Adam and Eve and exacerbated by Abraham and Sarah’s people. He had to both reclaim humanity and creation from sin and futility and restore both to their place in God’s creational design. At the cross he took care of sin and in his resurrection God brought forth new being and new creation into the midst of this old world that is decaying and passing away.

The good news today is that Jesus has won the victory over sin, death, and (d)evil. He wants you and me to join him in his victory march throughout the world, implementing his victory through the “violence of love” (Oscar Romero) and suffering servanthood (Isaiah 53). We experience new life (the forgiveness of sins) and a new vocation, which is but our primal vocation as royal priests in God’s new creation

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