LentBlog 2015, Day 11: The Secret is Out

Ephesians 3:1-6

 This is the reason that I Paul am a prisoner for[a] Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. In former generations this mystery[b] was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

NRSV


This passage is making a pretty simple yet profound point with me tonight… Paul takes 5 verses to lead up to it, and perhaps he’s doing it on purpose. It turns out there’s been a secret of sorts. And Paul, among others, has been sent to proclaim it from the rooftops to Jews and Gentiles alike:

In Jesus, the Gospel is for “those people,” too. 

In Jesus, outsiders become more than just insiders-who-were-outsiders… more than just people who are welcome in our little club, but aren’t really like us… they become co-heirs. Brothers and Sisters. Full-blown, flat-out equals. Indistinguishable from those who were insiders in the first place. Members of the same body with the same DNA.

That’s a bomb going off to folks who say they welcome new and different people, but keep them at arms length because they’re new and different. Some Jewish Christians treated their Gentile brothers and sisters this way, and Paul goes to great lengths all over the place, not just in Ephesians, to remind them that attitude is not a kingdom attitude.

My prayer is to welcome a bunch of new folks into the Kingdom in the coming days.

Blessings,

Mark

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LentBlog Day 27: Pedigree Isn’t the Point.

Romans 9:1-9.

I have a dog. Her name is Tobi, and she’s a nut-case about half the time. Stefanie and I adopted her shortly after we were married, which makes her 11-ish years old now. Adopting a dog was a new thing for me. I’m a purebred, Registered Labrador Retriever kind of guy. Tobi, however, came with no papers. No registration. No guarantees. No pedigree. We’ve IMG_0114figured out she’s probably a Beagle/Jack-Russel Terrier mix, which makes her the cutest, orneriest dog ever.

Tobi can be a real piece of work, as anyone who really knows our family can confirm. But through it all… through the end of seminary, our first pastoral assignments, in successes and failures, in times where the church was a true glimpse of the Kingdom and in times when “God’s people” really didn’t act like it, through the birth of our 2 sons, blizzards, droughts, and 3 hurricanes, Tobi has been our friend and companion. After all, she really is a pretty good dog.

And that has nothing to do with some high-falutin’ pedigree. She has no bloodline to brag about. She’s a shelter dog who found a family.

Paul is, of course, making a similar point here as he waxes eloquent on the people of Israel.

It must have been difficult for him as a Pharisee and “Jew of Jews” to reach the place where he was able to truthfully write:  “In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.” (9:8).

Some folks have a great pedigree. They bear a surname that has great and good meaning in their communities, churches, and denominations. Other’s have to cringe and duck when they introduce themselves by their full name. Still others experience both.

We’re challenged by the fact you can’t ride your pedigree into the Kingdom. But we could also be quite thankful that even if our pedigree is not so pristine, we can be adopted into the Family. Good news for mutts like us.

 

Blessings,

Mark