Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Speaking In Tongues (part 28)

The assembly in which none go hungry and in which the needs of all are met, with a conscientious and attentive eye cast towards the wider community for the purpose of meeting the needs of those outside their association, and not for the purpose of gaining honor for their assembly but because of the example of their God that went to a cross and was said to have suffered on behalf of His people and to establish His kingdom, and as a component of their expressed desire to go to the lowest places and people in order to share in their suffering and shame (taking it upon themselves in a sense, as such an association would cause them to be viewed more shamefully as well), would certainly serve to bring a level of conviction. 

Such a person, witnessing the activity of the gathered church of the Christ, could very well be called to account by all, especially if that calling to account is not a condemnation of his or her sin as some tend to think of it (those things referred to as “activities of the flesh”), but rather a calling to account that causes that person to reflect on what it means to be truly human and one’s obvious failures in this area. 

The heretofore uninstructed observer would be witnessing that which the Creator God has intended for His divine image-bearers.  The true working of the Spirit, rather than being seen as something that results in a personal display of Spirit-led activity, takes place as the covenant God’s Spirit flows through the kingdom-modeling activities of His body and calls one more person to conviction and account.  As the Spirit works, gifting a man or woman to participate in the kingdom of their God, re-shaping mindsets and transforming the heart so that it stands in opposition to the values of a fallen world, while also being ready to engage in ways to effectively impact and re-shape the values of those that inhabit a fallen world, “The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring ‘God is really among you.’” (1 Corinthians 14:25) 

That deep-seated knowledge of the responsibility to bear the divine image, along with the failure to do so, springs to life.  Without doing so as a means of proof-texting, one can borrow from the letter to the Romans in order to buttress the statement and the ideas that stand behind verse twenty-five to possibly understand Paul’s thinking, as there he writes “because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributed---His eternal power and divine nature---have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.  So people are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).  The Creator God is put on (puts Himself on?) display through His kingdom community.

As part of this same process of understanding this portion of Paul’s communication, it is possible to look to one of his speeches recorded in Acts, as he speaks about the “Unknown God” of Athens, and about His power, His presence, and His purpose of revealing Himself in the manner in which He has revealed Himself (His Christ and His church), “so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).  Through the gift of His Spirit, which is meant to shape an ever-increasing portion of humanity into conformity to His own image, with this occurring by certain but not limited manifestations of that Spirit that can be referred to as individual gifts, conviction is brought about, and the Creator God receives the glory that is due to Him.  Bringing this about has always been part of the required role of His people. 

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