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Archive for August, 2013

Theology of Ethnicity 2

August 26th, 2013
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Living in community is a challenge.

 Romans 14-15

 In the reading from Romans we hear Paul acknowledging that we have many people from varied backgrounds coming in to the church.

 Jews and Gentiles were mixing together in the same congregations with all their belief systems. Jews who loved to celebrate with red meat and some Gentiles who had a taboo against that. Jews who loved to use wine at a meal and those who came in who shunned it. Those that fasted on certain days and those that didn’t. Jews who had to hear parables in which Samaritans are the good guys.

 Not exactly a comfortable place at times.

 The church actually is quite messy. Paul wants them to focus on their common Lord and the working of the Holy Spirit.

 God has really chosen in his wisdom what appears to be foolishness: bringing together people from every nation, tribe, people and language – without demanding that their faith or conscience is always on the same page.

 But what must be on the same page is that we don’t live to please ourselves but to please our neighbour for his good, to build him up, knowing we are accountable to our Lord. “Everything that does not come from faith is sin”.

 For the Christian we need to see this world through God’s eyes. This leads us to focus on God’s plan of redemption. We are not to see anyone apart from what Jesus has achieved for them.

 Last week we were looking at a theology of ethnicity: learning to live with ethnic difference. Last time we recognize the diversity of human creativity in the human family can be a wonderful thing to enjoy.

 But we also saw that their can be dark side to difference which can lead to us and them. The idolatry of our culture and its distinctives. And this leads us in to a very important understanding of what is the priority for a Christian with regard to our cultural heritage. From the article The Ethnic Enemy – No Greek or Jew…Barbarian, Scythian: The Gospel and Ethnic Difference by  Keith Fernando:

  Nevertheless, ethnic difference is also relativised in Revelation. The great emphasis is on the constitution of the new people of God drawn from the nations, rather than the preservation of the old ethnic categories.

 The renewed unity of humanity is the greater truth and, if ethnicity survives, it is as a relatively minor theme in a much bigger reality.

 The Christian community has a new vision.

 All that divides humanity is transcended through this radical inclusion in Christ, who ‘understood his mission, in response to the coming reign of God, as forming an alternative community with remarkably different values. . . . In this new community allegiance to kinship and ethnic groups was not the main source of a person’s identity’.

 This new, ethnicity-transcending reality is displayed at Pentecost, when the gift of tongues symbolically reverses Babel’s confusion of language which had led to the dispersal of the peoples.

 Now through the Spirit they are brought together into the unity of God’s people as barriers of language—crucial markers of ethnic difference—are vanquished in a proleptic act. (something done ahead of time)

 It is present again when the Spirit teaches Peter is to call no man unclean and Cornelius is brought into the fellowship of God’s people (Acts 10:28). Paul in particular stresses fact that ‘in Christ’ the divisive effects of gender, socio-economic class, and ethnicity are transcended, …

 Galatians 3:26-29

 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 Colossians 3:11

 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 In all that diversity –with marked cultural differences – Christ transcends all of this

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Message for the Day

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 224 | Wed 21 Aug 2013

August 21st, 2013
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EGYPT — A TIME TO WEEP, MOURN AND PRAY

The crisis in Egypt arises from the arrival of ‘democracy’ after decades of Saudi-sponsored Islamic radicalisation in a State hurtling towards collapse. Egypt is kept afloat by Saudi money and Saudi Arabia wants the crushing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which advocates republicanism. 

In this, the interests of the Saudis, the Egyptian military and the Salafis converge. Fighting back, MB leaders have called for violent intifada against the military, which will create MB victims and ‘martyrs’ for propaganda purposes. But as the guardians of the Suez Canal and the Sinai, the Egyptian military — definitely no friend of Christians — will doubtless be able to do whatever it wants.

There are no good options. Christian security is tenuous. These are days to weep and mourn, but above all, to pray!

T0 read full report click here.

Prayers

Theology of Ethnicity(1)

August 19th, 2013
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Scripture reading: Ephesians 2-4

 The following song reflects a great desire that is so far away  much of the time,
United | Playing For Change. To watch please click here.

 We live in a world that we could described as confusion.

 How do we relate to this world? What is our relationship to culture? How do we not just go along with the culture we have grown up with? Paul in the fourth chapter of Ephesians had some strong teaching on this.

 However, it is particularly challenging having a Messiah who embraced sinners.

 The Pharisaic solution doesn’t work. Just separate. Don’t be socially contaminated by mixing socially with the unclean. The Essenes went even further: they separated themselves in to self contained communities of the righteous ones.

 Sometimes Christians say sin lies in culture and when the Christian escapes culture, he/she can escape sin. This is certainly not the case. In fact a lot of sin occurs in communities that have separated, particularly those with a strong leader.

 A negative view of the world and its culture does not of itself create children of the resurrection who embrace the reversal Jesus talked about and lived.

 However, sometimes because of evil governments Christians have been forced in to the previous situations.

 “We are to bring the world together and to live as one.” We heard sung around this world.

 There is only one who has united the human race and made it one in himself with the Father: Jesus Christ. We read that in chapter 2 of Ephesians. Christians live in this truth but the world continues in its enmities with one another and with God.

 Jesus told his followers they have to align themselves with the values of the Kingdom of God , oriented towards God’s purpose for mankind yet still live actively in this world. Be busy until I come.

 Yet we struggle in knowing how to live in this in this fractured, divided and evil world.

 To do this in a sound way is actually easier said than done.

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Message for the Day