Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Timothy & Countering The Culture (part 32 of 32)

The cultural engagement part of the universal penetration of the kingdom of the Creator God (as the realm of this God’s existence overlaps with the realm of human existence whenever Jesus is proclaimed as Lord in both word, and equally importantly in deed), and as was seen earlier in this study, must be considered as a counter-imperialism.  To this end, the apostle could he heard taking up the language reserved for and applied to the Caesar, and appropriating it to the true Emperor of the eternal empire of the Creator God. 

That said, and as one nears the end of the letter, there is a necessary circling back to this counter-imperialism which is foundational to a counter-cultural movement, as governments, through their deity-aspirant brokers of power almost invariably attempt to shape the culture around themselves, desiring to orient the lives of their citizens towards the needs of the state (creating a patron/client system in which the government, or a single entity, becomes all in all as the locus of power). 

In the first chapter, Paul refers to Christ Jesus as the one who strengthens and saves, while exulting in Him as “the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God,” who was deserving of honor and glory forever.  This was how the worshipers of Caesar (and of Rome) then spoke of the one that say they saw as the savior of the world.  Paul does not let Timothy forget that the first and foremost claim of the church is the universal Lordship of Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Messiah, whose sovereign rule encompasses all kings and all kingdoms; and that this rule is demonstrated by the compassionate, kingdom of the covenant God affirming activities of those that acknowledge themselves to be the body of the Christ (His hands and feet). 

To accomplish this reminder, Paul builds on his directive of keeping away, pursuing, competing, and confessing, inching towards the close of his letter (though the instructions concerning the rich will intervene between these words and the final close) in much the same way that he basically began, with a Caesar parodying doxology. 

He writes, and the words echo in solemn contemplation of the believer’s charge to be counter-cultural change agents: “I charge you before God who gives life to all things and Christ Jesus who made his good confession before Pontius Pilate, to obey this command without fault or failure until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ---whose appearing the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will reveal at the right time” (6:13-14).  Paul makes it clear just who it is that truly rules the world, contrary to the claim of the stewards of Rome’s far-flung but ultimately miniscule empire, adding “He alone possesses immortality and lives in unapproachable light, whom no human has ever seen or is able to see.  To Him be honor and eternal power!  Amen” (6:16).        

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