Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In This Is Love (part 16)

This realization gives an even greater weight to Paul’s apparent thinking about the church that is presented in the first chapter of Ephesians.  There, Paul undergirds the entirety of the Christian life with the premise of being “in Christ.”  With what might very well be a line of thinking that is shaped by Israel’s son of God tradition, he writes about the Creator God’s adoption of sons through Jesus (1:5), and presents the church as “His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (1:23). 

It is almost as if Paul, along with the author of the works that bear the name of John, believe that the church of Jesus the Christ has been specially and purposefully appointed to take the place of Jesus in the world, and to be His representatives (with a nod to the underlying comprehension of Jesus as the true King of the cosmos).  Of course, that is exactly what they believe, with Paul reinforcing such thinking elsewhere by speaking of those that are in union with the Christ in purpose and mission as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), and as the church as the manifestation and extension of the Creator God’s covenant faithfulness (righteousness) in the world (5:21). 

Beyond the constant repetition of the theme that those who believe in Jesus have become the sons of the Creator God (which is to be contemplated in terms of the mission to destroy the works of the devil---as outlined by Jesus words and actions undertaken in the grand son of God tradition), there is the demonstration of the foundations of the church as such, which has been previously referenced in the course of this study.  To that point, after His Resurrection, upon His first appearance to His disciples, Jesus is said to have told them that “Just as the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21).  With this, Jesus was sending His disciples into the world, as revealers. 

As Jesus had been the direct revelation of the Creator God, so would His disciples now reveal that God through revealing and proclaiming Jesus and the message that He is Lord of all.  This revelation, among other things, as a continuation of the Creator God’s purpose for His revealed and revealing sons, would have as its purpose the destruction of the works of the devil.  It should be noted that the words of sending that Jesus employed carried an echo of His baptism, when the voice of confirmation and approbation spoke from heaven.  Likewise, when Jesus “breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’” (20:22), the repetition of His baptismal scene (not to mention the animating of Adam) was continued, as His delivery of the Holy Spirit to them attunes the reader to the previously reported descent of the dove.  As it was said about Jesus, so too could it be said of those that would go forth to speak and live out the word of His kingdom---this is “the Chosen One of God” (John 1:34b). 

It is quite possibly with all of these things in mind that the same author would pen “By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent His one and only Son into the world so that we may live through Him” (1 John 4:9).  By what is taken to be the act of receiving the Spirit of the Creator God and so effectively becoming living beings for the first time, the church is now understood to be a son not unlike Adam---a new creation charged to steward the Creator God’s creation/kingdom and reflect His glory into the world by rightly bearing His image and reminding the world of its true Lord and King. 

Making this connection is not at all untenable, as Adam was said to have received his life through the very breath of the covenant God, Jesus is referred to by those that undertook to comprehend and share about His life and mission and its meaning as the last Adam, and the church operates as the present and active body of the Christ to be the living and breathing and perpetual witness of the love of the Creator God that was made supremely manifest in the life and death of the Son. 

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