Sunday, November 10, 2013

Hated (part 7 of 7)

Secondly, hate comes when Christians proclaim Jesus as their Lord and God and are thereby charged to exemplify divine blessing, subsequently presenting themselves as a chosen and rescued and delivered people, but then deny the blessings associated with that confession by not living their proclamation into the world.  If one names the name of Jesus, and revels in being a part of the chosen people of the covenant God, but then turns a back to this world to dismiss this creation in a way that Jesus never did; or if believers hold to the claim to be the transformative power of the Gospel to themselves within the walls of their churches without taking that power out to give cups of cold water and food and clothing (exemplifying divine blessing), then the world has every right to express hatred. 

Is this what happened to Israel in Egypt?  Was it these type of actions, or lack thereof, that caused the Creator God’s fruitful people to be hated?  Is this what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of the hatred to come?  Is it possible that followers of the Christ are hated when they proclaim allegiance to the name of Jesus, but then simply do not live according to that proclamation?  At the risk of redundancy, should they be hated when they live as if this world does not matter, looking to a rapture or a far-off realm, turning God’s blessing into that which is merely personal and spiritual under the cloak of a cultivation of personal holiness in supposed service to Jesus, and thereby showing contempt for the world in a way that is not to be found with Jesus?  With a historical grounding for the language of Jesus that is rooted in the experience of Egypt and the exodus, this would appear to be highly plausible. 

Finally, with Jesus’ speaking to enduring to the end and being saved, there comes a reminder that His disciples are most certainly in this world, but at the same time they are a part of the kingdom of the Creator God that was being proclaimed by Jesus and which was inaugurated at the Resurrection.  Believers live in anticipation of the age to come, which is already present with the power of the Gospel (Jesus is Lord) that began to be shed abroad by the Resurrection of Jesus, but the coming of which in its fullness (the restoration of the cosmos) is still awaited. 

Like Israel in Egypt following their enslavement to an oppressive power, believers are to know themselves as a people of promise.  Believers are to know themselves as people of the covenant, yet maintain the understanding that they will toil in bondage to the eventual coming of death, waiting for their final deliverance that has been promised in the Resurrection of the Christ, while compassionately sympathizing with a suffering world as did their Lord. 

Though they were oppressed in Egypt, Israel knew that they had a promise that had been given to Abraham---that a deliverer, bringing salvation, would come after a certain period of time.  That hope was never lost.  The believer holds on to that hope as well.  It sustained them even as they served the Egyptians, which they were forced to do unwillingly through hatred, rather than joyfully with divine blessing.  Though they experienced the effects of hatred at the hands of the Egyptians, for whatever reason that hatred came, those that endured were saved and they were led out into their God’s land of promise.

If one is to be hated in association with the Christ,  it is best to be hated for the right reasons.  The believer is to be hated because of a proclamation of the Lordship and the supreme rule of Jesus over all of mankind and over all of this creation as they await a resurrected entrance into their God’s restored creation.  Thus the believers will be hated for a cause, as the redeeming and resurrecting power of the Gospel is brought to bear.        

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