We’ve got the most important job in the world. We’ve got to be literate in Scripture and literate in culture, because we are charged with painting a vivid picture of an alternative kingdom to the world, and even with the Spirit on our side it’s going to take all we’ve got. We can’t afford to get pulled into the soundbite stupidity of our times, much less speak in soundbites ourselves. There is no place in the world where people should be forced to think harder about God, life and the world than where the people of God gather.
Ask yourself: If that is what Jesus is all about—getting us to love one another—why did everyone reject him? They did so, I think, because when Jesus was told by the devil he would be given the power to turn stones to bread, he refused; when Jesus was offered authority over all the kingdoms of this world, he refused; when he was offered the possibility he would not die, he refused. Note that Jesus was offered the means to feed the hungry, the authority to end war between peoples, and even the defeat of death itself. But he refused these goods. He did so because Jesus knows God’s kingdom cannot be forced into existence with the devil’s means.
Brilliant response. So thankful I can claim this man as my Pastor!
The poor in spirit will be making the kingdom of heaven happen. The meek will be taking over the earth, so gently that the powerful won’t notice until it’s too late. The peacemakers will be putting the arms manufacturers out of business. Those who are hungry and thirsty for God’s justice will be
analysing government policy and legal rulings and speaking up on behalf of those at the bottom of the pile. The merciful will be surprising everybody by showing that there is a different way to do human relations: some people know only how to be judgmental, to give as good as they get, to lash out and get their own back, but the Beatitude-people will unveil, and by their example encourage, a refreshingly different way. You are the light of the world, said Jesus. You are the salt of the earth. He was announcing a programme yet to be completed. He was inviting his hearers, then and now, to join him in making it happen. This is what it looks like when Christian faith is doing its job within the public life of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
You are not forgiven because you confess your sin. You confess your sin, recognize yourself for what you are, because you are forgiven. When you come to confession, to make a ritual proclamation of you sin, to symbolize that you know what you are, you are not coming in order to have your sins forgiven. You don’t come to confession to have your sins forgiven. You come to celebrate that your sins are forgiven. You come to put on the best robe and the ring on your finger and the sandals on your feet, and the get drunk out of your mind, because your blindfold and your blindness have gone, and you can see the love God has for you.
Herbert McCabe, Faith Within Reason, p. 158-159
Once you have deluded yourself with sin, once you have shut yourself off from God (rather than letting yourself be destroyed by his love, destroyed and remade, crucified and raised from the dead), once you have hidden his love from you behind your protective barrier, your blindfold of self-flattery, there is nothing at all you can do about it.
It is by the power of God, by the love of God coming to him even while he was in sin, that the younger brother became able to see himself for what he is; and this is contrition, this is forgiveness.
Herbert McCabe, Faith Within Reason, p. 158
Biblical theology isn’t done through word counts, nor is it done by overemphasizing verses that seem to support your theological agenda. Not only should Pastor Mark know that, but he himself makes this same argument. Which is what is so confusing and disturbing to me.
We certainly should not ignore God’s wrath. We do so, not only at our own peril, but at the peril of the world. God’s wrath is stirred because we try to take control of our own lives (idol worship) and we ignore the people he called us to serve: the marginalized, the persecuted, and the oppressed. God’s wrath is stirred because He wants the best for the creation He loves, but that’s just it: He loves. God does not hate the world. Jesus himself said so.
Love may not be a manly enough concept for Pastor Mark’s theology, but whether he likes it or not love is the dominant attribute of God. This isn’t something “hippies” have decided themselves, it is the gospel proclaimed by none other than Jesus of Nazareth.
For true justice never comes through violence, nor can it be based on violence. It can only be based on truth, which has no need to resort to violence to secure its own existence.
The characteristic actions and activities of Christians marked them out from the very beginning as a new sort of grouping in the ancient world. In many ways they were not like a ‘religion’; they had no sacred sites, no animal sacrifices. They were not like a political group, since they looked for a kingdom not of this world. They were like Jews, not pagans, in that they gave allegiance to the one creator god, and they reused standard Jewish polemic against paganism. But they insisted, too, upon using the language of divinity for Jesus, and upon a completely non-racial fellowship, both of which put them decidedly outside the range of mainstream Judaism. What sort of movement was this? From our brief study of early Christian praxis we can only say that Aristides got it about right. It was a new sort of movement, that could only properly be described by creating a new category alongside Greeks, barbarians, and Jews. It was a new way of construing what it meant to be human.
N.T. Wright, The New Testament And The People of God, p. 365