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Archive for September, 2012

1. Read Ephesians 2:1-10. Describe grace. What is it? What is it not?

So if the human condition is understood biblically in terms of the exile of humanity and the need for restoration, Ephesians describes a God who displays powerful and unrelenting grace. What is grace? It is a gift of God, it is deliverance from death, it is liberation to regain our humanness and therefore the joy and power of being Divine image bearers. God’s favor means restoration, he has brought us back into Eden, there is no more flaming sword or holy angelic warrior keeping us away. The tree of Life is once again ours to enjoy and to partake. All is right again. And all is being made right…through us. Like Israel in the Hebrew scriptures, we are the people who are to be a light and voice of wisdom in a dark and twisted world. We are to suffer and struggle for justice, resist evil and take great burdens in full view of the nations. The power of the suffering Spirit shining out on display from us, a City on a hill.

To be the people of God is not to be a group of people contributing to the awful tide of selfishness and bigotry that sweeps our land, it is to be a people of grace because we have been given grace. We are no better than those less fortunate, we are not given our holy vocation to be judges of those our cultures deem “less” and “dirty”. We must counter our culture here, for here our culture is very wrong. We are handed our purpose so that those who are “not fit” for relationship and community can become relationships and blessings, the community of God. For we are all unclean and evil and unfit…by grace we are saved. Have we never sold ourselves for gain, maybe for a promotion or some other form of approval? Are we not then also prostitutes? Do we still wander this world alone and without wholeness, do we hide our dirty and ragged selves so that we can appear to have it all together? Are we not then also homeless and dirty people? Don’t we all struggle with objectifying others weaker than ourselves, making them objects for our own pleasure and means? Are we not also molesters and perverts? It is time we as a people stopped thinking that evil is a problem in “them” and looked honestly at ourselves. We need grace, we all do. Our hope isn’t found in twelve steps, the prison system, a presidential election or in religion. Our hope is that we are created by a God who gives grace to a sinful and stupid people.

Jesus fought and died for this truth. He believed that the human problem was beyond Israel and that simply doing away with Roman oppression would not bring humanity back from exile. Jesus died so that his people would know the freedom and joy that comes with being human. This is why his gospel is relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Because though cultural traditions and how people live and what languages they speak have changed, the problem of exile has not. The way of Jesus is the way to restoration, the way to home and this is good news.

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