Reflections for the Week of January 28, 2018 Fourth after Epiphany

Gospel: Mark 1:21-28 tells of Jesus entering the synagogue in Capernaum (in Galilee)and teaching with astounding authority and exorcising a demoniac of his evil spirit. In this passage Jesus can be seen revealing the power of YHWH through the full possession of the Holy Spirit given Him at birth (or conception, really) and by YHWH at His baptism (Mt 3:16,17;Lk 3:21,22). Jesus , as described in the Gospels, is meant to bring to fulfillment the long narrative that Israel saw themselves as embodying.Israel’s story had many similarities to the story of Adam and Eve in that Israel as a nation had turned away form God to idols as Adam and Eve had done in disobeying God’s command and giving credence to the serpent. But the birth of Jesus was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham 1900 years before to bring a solution to man’s plight and fallen state.

Wright believes the goal of a disembodied life in heaven is more a Platonic, pagan view than the biblical view which in Rev 21,22 sees man’s future in terms of heaven descending to a renewed earth where God’s people will live in “the age to come” with resurrected bodies. In the meantime we are living in an overlap of the present age with the age to come initiated by the resurrection of Jesus. Our objective as we live in this fallen world is to follow Him as well as we can in trying to bring in the kingdom of God. This is quite a different vocation than what is generally thought by Christians, namely to live morally so that we can go to heaven. Of course, morals are part of following Him but are not the whole objective. In fact one can focus on rules and ‘being good’ and miss the point which is to reflect God’s image and Christ’s humanity into the world around us, and to reflect the praises of the world back to God. This was Christ’s mission on earth as He sought to inaugurate His kingdom by revealing God to the world and choosing disciples who would carry on His purpose after His ascension.

Another feature of this view of Christianity is that the Ascension does not mean that Christ as our king has gone far away, but rather that He has simply entered the divine dimension which is very close to us but invisible. He is transcendent (in another dimension) but immanent, i.e., intimately involved in the world and in our lives and very close to us though invisible. When the present age ends, the Scriptures speak of His “appearing” as though a veil that separates our world from God’s world or dimension will simply be withdrawn and we will see His world as clearly as our own. So we have a vocation to realize or a kingdom to implement rather than simply trying “to be good.” We are to try to live life as Jesus did, confronting power with truth, showing what full humanity really means, giving those around us insight into what the kingdom is and what it means. This is what the church is called to do and be but hasn’t clearly and fully realized yet. The vocation of kingdom people is largely a matter of worshiping God as revealed by Jesus rather than the idolatry involved in worshiping the creation. The latter may involve worshiping money, sex, power, and pleasure and can involve putting one’s own self-centered desires ahead of God’s purposes. This whole view of man’s calling as a vocation from God for His people can be seen as much broader and more inclusive than mere moralism. It may also be more challenging, inspiring, and fulfilling.

Memory Verse: Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed
what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see
Him as He is (1 Jn 3:2).

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