Monday, October 6, 2008

Blue Parakeet - Chapter 5: Part 2

Covenant Community: The Struggle for Oneness

The temptation then, is to skip from Genesis three to the Gospels or Romans three. We need, however, to see the plot move from creation and fall to redemption. The story of the Bible is creation, fall, and then covenant community – page after page of community – as the context in which our wonderful redemption takes place.

If reading the Bible as Story teaches us one think, it teaches us that it is the otherness with others that most concerns God. Because we in the West are obsessed with our individual relationship with God, we like to read the Bible as morsels of blessing and promise. But reading the Bible as Story opens up a need so deep we sometimes aren’t aware we need it: oneness with others.

After the flood, God forms a covenanted community – a community in which they are to find oneness with God, with self, with others and with the world. This covenanted community will shape the rest of the Bible. Oneness cannot be achieved just between God and self. The way God works redemption in this world is through his covenanted community – first Israel, then the church.

Otherness Gets the Last Word

Here’s the massive problem in the Story: God’s people don’t get the job done. Something is terribly wrong with God’s covenanted people. Woven into this story is a deep thread of failure that creates otherness. Deep within the fabric of this story is that Israel won’t get the job done until the job is done for them. That job won’t get done until Jesus, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah, comes. He will bring the oneness.

Christ, the Perfect Eikon: Oneness Restored

The Bible’s story has a plot headed in the direction of a person. And that same story is headed in the direction of a community “in” that person.

Everything God designed for Eikons is actually lived out by Jesus. Everything Eikons are to do comes by being “in Christ” or by becoming “one” with Jesus Christ. God accomplishes four things in Christ, each of which contributes to the restoration of oneness.

Incarnation – this is where he becomes one with us. He is the Oneness Story in one person.

Death – Humans are guilty before God according to Genesis 3; the punishment for that guilt is death. Otherness leads to death (“you must not touch it, or you will die”). The problem is to resolve death. Because God’s intent is to make the Eikons what he designed them to be, God (in the person of Jesus Christ) takes on our death – our punishment for sin – so that we don’t have to die.

Jesus dies with us – he dies our death and we die with him.

Jesus dies instead of us – that final death is taken on board by him and we don’t have to die that final death.

Jesus dies for us – by assuming our death, we are forgiven of our sin.

But forgiveness is only the beginning of restoring us to oneness.

Resurrection – Forgiveness is not enough, the Eikons need life. Jesus is raised for us. By becoming one with the Resurrected One through faith, we are raised to new life. Why? So that we might stand up and walk again as Eikons are designed to live – with God, with self, with others, and with the world.

Pentecost – Here is where the power to create oneness is given, God sends his power in the form of the Holy Spirit. When we read Acts 2 (esp. verses 42-47) we see the gift of the Spirit is not tongues speaking but community formation. As we are reconciled to God through Christ, this leads to oneness (reconciliation) with others in this world (see 2 Cor. 5.18).

Consummation: Oneness Forever

Jesus’ first work stands now as partial redemption. The fullness of that work, complete union and perfect oneness will be consummated only when Christ returns again to establish the new heavens and the new earth. When that happens, Mr. and Mrs. Eikon will bask in the glory of union with God, where they will themselves be so radiant as to draw attention to God’s oneness as the origin of it all.

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