Sunday, 24 March 2013

Big things at stake

This week, being Easter week, we focus on the cross. We contemplate afresh what it means for each of us individually. In many places silence will be kept, and words will be shared to help us think it through once again, and allow the reality of it to rend our hearts anew.

As we do this as individuals, let us not lose sight of the bigger picture. The point of going to the cross was not just about redeeming a (hopefully growing) collection of individuals plucked out of humanity through all time, but it had a much much greater perspective.

To call it 'global' does not do justice. Yes global in the sense of being available to everyone everywhere, but more accurately it is 'cosmic', affecting every thing everywhere - including things unseen. The cross and resurrection has a political dimension, affecting power in all its forms: explicit and behind the scenes stuff.

Paul sums it up in Col 2:15. Having talked about redemption for believers in v14, he leaps straight into the cosmic. Authorities and powers are disarmed, a public spectacle. This is the achievement of the cross. Far bigger, far more wide ranging, far more effective than we probably can ever contemplate. But a reality nevertheless - one that as Christians we are to get used to, and get on board with.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Jesus, will you make your mind up please? II

In my last post we saw how Jesus seemed to fluctuate between going out wide looking for those far off, and narrowing, suggesting only those prepared for the hardship will be able to stick it out. One might be forgiven for asking whether Jesus could make his mind up, and choose one or the other.

Yet the two go together - especially for those commissioned for his service. Thats because going out is going to cost, and the cost will run deep. It will require a generous spirit (hence the shrewd manager parable), and working counter to the prevailing culture. This will not be an easy ride, and one that you cannot just take for granted.

Its certainly leaves no room for thinking 'well I've got the (traditional) badge, so I'm in', as the listening Pharisees may have assumed. Hence the conundrum that Jesus will seek the lost far & wide, while others who thought they were 'in' anyway may well need to think again.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Jesus, will you make your mind up please?

Sometimes the ongoing sequence of what Jesus says to those around him can be just plain confusing. Take Luke chapters 13 to 16 for example. From 13:18 Jesus talks about the growth of the Kingdom, introduced by the previous example of healing a crippled woman. Yet in v22 he starts going on about a 'narrow' door, obstructing 'many'.

A little later in chapter 14 the scope widens again: a dinner party gives Jesus the setting to explain the concept of inviting widely, bringing in all kinds of people. In turn this leads to the parable of the great banquet, repeating the concept.

Sounds good doesn't it, but then in v25 when large crowds have accumulated Jesus then seems to actively put them off. The cost will be high - implication being don't bother if you are not up for it. We are back into a narrowing phase.

But then again, come chapter 15 it is all going out to find the lost and those far from God with the trio of lost sheep/coin/son. Hasn't Jesus just done another u-turn?

Then in chapter 16 the pendulum swings yet again, with the shrewd manager plus additional teachings suggesting that it is not a simple free-for-all.

So Jesus, which is it? Go out far and long with a wide open invite, or narrow the field?