Wednesday, October 26, 2011

2000 years – Context, or what the heck is going on here?

Consider if you will the “state” of Israel in the first century A.D. Palestine is under Roman rule and experiencing a time of relative peace (Pax Romana). Although “puppet king” Herod is bent on killing off his entire family, he seems willing to let the Jews live their lives in peace as long as they “behave”. The Jews for their part are awaiting the long anticipated arrival of their messiah/king who will deliver them from tyranny. This is the world Jesus (the Christ) will be born into, but this humble messiah/king will not be what the Jews are expecting. Now, think of the context of these events as one grand story or play being acted out over thousands of years, but where every event is connected to the other across time, for this is the reality of God’s plan. If we look at the first century and our 21st century, we will see some interesting and possibly disturbing parallels. But fear not, this is a creation process, not a destruction process as many view it . . . at least it is for those who seek God. Okay, bear with me and see if these parallels are also obvious to you? Since the time of exile (separation) for Israel, sectarianism has increased and solidified among the Jewish people. The sects [read denominations” here] are as much political and cultural as they are religious. The Pharisees [read “leaders” here] have become enamored with their own interpretations and legalistic hypotheticals which do not necessarily jibe with the Torah [read “Scripture” here]. Interpretation and tradition, in fact, are on par with the Law itself. Okay, fast forward to our own time, about what we are seeing now, (you PC USA folks should really be getting this.) Further, with popular support, many of these religious leaders are seeking government offices or places of high regard and authority in the sects [denominations]. (Think General Assembly here PC USA friends.) It is fairly clear that in their first century religious beliefs and practices the Jews had come a long way from Mt. Sinai (or maybe a better way to phrase that would be “have strayed a long way?”) In the same way, Christians have come (strayed) a long way from the empty tomb. Lord have mercy indeed! But the truth remains; God has taken on human flesh and moved into the neighborhood! What a mystery! What a marvelous and wonderful mystery! So, if you feel you have strayed too, look to the Good Shepherd, He’ll lead you back. Amen?

Oh, one more thing . . . “church” isn’t happening in denominations, committee meetings or often even in corporate worship settings. It’s not about big glitzy highly promoted events; it’s about intimate personal discipleship. It’s happening out there where His disciples are lovingly imitating Him, where He is “building His church.” Remember, Jesus did not come as a religious leader. He held no official position, nor was He trained (seminary) to be a priest or other cleric. He took His ministry to the cities, towns, country roads and farms and homes . . . wherever the common people might be found. And, He calls us to do the same.

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