Friday, November 29, 2013

In This Is Love (part 18 of 18)

It is from that insistence about those that are the sons of the Creator God that Paul goes on to write of the creation that eagerly awaits the revelation of those sons of God (Romans 8:19).  Paul seems to insist that the creation, and indeed the beings that have been charged with the stewardship of that creation, await the revelation of the sons of the Creator God so that they might suffer alongside and on behalf of the creation as did Jesus, and so that they might destroy the works of the devil by which they are enslaved---even if they are part of that group of image bearing stewards that have not yet realized the fact of their own enslavement. 

So it is in this suffering that one finds love.  It is “not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10b).  It is here that one must not overly personalize this statement and think of sins in the usual way of petty moral failings.  One must think of the larger sin of idolatry---of not worshiping the Creator and of improperly bearing His image.  Jesus addresses this in that He not only reveals the Creator God, but He perfectly bears the image of that God, and therefore, shows forth what the Creator expected and expects of His human creation. 

His ultimate self-sacrifice, trusting with a great hope in His God’s power for resurrection and re-creation, shows the way and the truth, along with that which is productive of eternal life (properly understood).  His reported giving over of the Spirit is taken to be the impartation of the power that brought about His Resurrection, and that imparted Spirit gives the desire and the ability to enter into self-sacrifice, while trusting that all that is done in His name will remain because the recipient also look towards the experience of a resurrection, just like Jesus.  This self-sacrifice is thus rooted in the same love that the Creator God showed for the world in the repeated sending of His sons which culminated in the sending of the Son, so that He could, in turn, send a new son (the church) into the world to prepare for the return of the Son. 

It is with these thoughts ringing in open ears that duty is to be considered, with that duty being the ongoing responsibility of the church (as the son of God) to destroy the works of the devil.  How does the last of the revealed sons of God do this?  The Johannine author writes “Dear friends, if God so loved us, then we also ought to love one another” (4:11).  How is this love shown?  It is shown through the embodiment of the Gospel (Jesus is Lord and this demands a certain response), and living as if there is a living and reigning King who gave His life and His all, and seeking to follow His example and His voice (food, clothing, cups of cold water, visiting prisoners, etc…) while also giving voice to that allegiance so that those that submit to that King might be used in somehow sending His power into the world, so that it is never forgotten that it is not by accomplished through one’s own might or power, but that it is by His Spirit that light overtakes darkness. 

Why embody the Gospel?  Because “No one has seen God at any time” (4:12a), which is the unfortunate by-product of the fall.  This is a distortion of what the Creator God had intended.  His son is to be the representative of His glory that will cause all to honor Him.  Therefore, “If we love one another, God resides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (4:12b), and this will enable the world to see God.  Yes, “He has given us of His Spirit” (4:13b) so that we might “testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world” (4:14b). 

Is the church of the Christ, as the son of God in and for the world today, the Savior of the world?  The immediate response is “of course not,” but to that is added a “well, yes and no.”   The “no” comes because none can be the Son that Jesus was.  The “yes” is uttered because those that comprise the church as the son of God are the ambassadors of the Creator God’s love and purpose, as those that are supposed to turn men to the God as revealed in the Christ, compelling a saving allegiance to that God through the Christ, “because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world” (4:17b), loving the world by the Spirit “because He loved us first” (4:19b).        

No comments:

Post a Comment