Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good Conduct, Good Deeds, Good Works (part 3)

This behavior learned through the church’s meal table (which is representative of the messianic banquet that has been transformed into that which is commonly thought of as the Lord’s Supper) is what makes the love that is embraced and professed by the Christian community tangible and observable, as it is expressed in such ways in order to bring glory to the Creator God.  Conversely then, a church composed of believers that is not operating with such a mindset, that is turned in on itself and seeking separation from the world so as to prepare themselves for their notion of heaven (a distant isle of blessedness, which is Greek thought, not Jewish), is actually modeling something that stands in fundamental opposition to what the confession of Jesus’ Lordship demands. 

A church that is turned in on itself is most likely not learning the principles of self-sacrificial love and the preference of one another for the benefit of the body, so that the body might benefit the community in which it is located as it demonstrates Jesus’ universal Lordship over all things and all areas of life, is probably perverting the meal table (symbolic or otherwise), having turned the Lord’s Supper (which is supposed be an enactment of the messianic meal as envisioned and put into practice by Jesus) into a source of personal benefit as well. 

Accordingly then, in that environment it is likely that the Lord’s table finds itself replete with authoritarian structures based on subjective spiritual rankings.  If love is not being learned and encouraged at the meal table, so that it aspires to the Jesus-backed vision of the messianic banquet, then it is highly unlikely that the church that is not learning these things is going to be engaging in public benefaction (good conduct/works/deeds). 

Ironically then, and transposing the issue for Peter’s time, the church that is isolated essentially becomes that which the Christians were accused of being.  Since they were not seeking the good of the world by their public display of Jesus’ Lordship, then yes, widespread maladies and calamities must be laid at their feet.  If they are claiming that their King is the true King (in opposition to Caesar’s claims), but not putting that claim into practice by demonstrating the fact that said Kingship extends to all things through their seeking of good for themselves and their neighbors, then the fundamental message of the Gospel (Jesus is Lord) is brought into disrepute.  Yes, they might as well be looked upon as atheists and cannibals, for all the benefits they are bringing to their world. 

One must never for a single moment lose sight of the fact that the hope of the Christian is to be resurrected just like Jesus.  It is this that is the repeated claim of the New Testament, and it stands in a polar opposition to a desire for an escape to heaven.  As they were thoroughly steeped in Jewish expectations concerning the kingdom of their God and the hope for resurrection thereby entailed, the earliest believers understood that Jesus was resurrected into this world with a glorified physical body, with that resurrection power set to work in this world. 

This resurrection is that for which the Christian hopes.  Christians living in isolation, concerned for nothing more than their personal eternal salvation rather than embracing a full engagement with the world to which their God is reconciling Himself through their overt kingdom-conscious actions and behavior, have a wrong-headed notion about the kingdom of God, seeing it as something distant in both time and space, rather than viewing it as did Jesus and His apostles, within their (fully Jewish) claim that the kingdom of their God was both present and coming. 

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