Maybe there is a model for the reconciled church in Acts and Galatians.

7 07 2010

Maybe there is a model for the reconciled church in Acts and Galatians.

In order to have the perfect reconciliation recipe you need (in my opinion) two things:

1)      A majority group and minority group who recognize that in being with each other something different (and oftentimes good!) can and will happen

2)      (More often than not) The majority group recognizes that it takes a lot more work and grace to do this new “together thing” and starts to tighten the reins on what is acceptable change, and what is just plain crazy.

And in Acts 15, Paul is trying to affirm the “just plain crazy” and the reality of the whole reconciliation situation: this reconciliation stuff is ridiculously uncomfortable!

It’s not peaches and roses like it was imagined. To be honest, it’s not okay with some people in the church body who were so eager to reconcile with everyone.

And some not so eager. The Pharisees still held to the fact that in order to be transformed, one must transform themselves to look like us. In other words, you can’t be us until you are like us.

But the point isn’t to be just like you. The point is to be just like Him.

The Pharisees were not like Christ, but interested in trapping Christ, setting Jesus up, outwitting Jesus and those who followed. And they looked stupid for doing it. Jesus can’t be trapped into being something or someone less than He is.

Jesus can’t be outsmarted. His way of reconciliation and life in God and with God’s Spirit is a model that freely accepts people without condition except to believe in Him. He does not require people to worship God as He worshipped, but to love God in their own way, to believe in Him because they have witnessed His glory.

For Jesus reconciliation was not about mimicry, it was about collectively becoming something totally different.

The Pharisees wanted to enforce a pre-requisite for others to be like them even though they were not the new model of reconciled life that Christ intended. They misunderstood. People weren’t converting to Judaism, they were de-converting from whatever life they once lived, whichever gods they did serve and moving towards an ambiguous following of righteousness, humility, and freedom that did not warrant certain dress, places of worship, specific rituals and the like.

Life in Christ didn’t mean joining the ranks of the Pharisees…Christ was too free for all that.

At least that’s what Paul was trying to teach/remind people. Christ has freed us up from the new guy having to become like the old guy. Instead both are made new. Both begin again. No matter how long one has been doing something, it is never long enough.

Many churches fall into the 2-step reconciliation model because those who own the church (the faith of that house if you will) are only willing to go so far. They don’t quite understand that it’s not about bringing people into your church to be transformed into yourself.

Reconciliation is a complete make-over of the church. Christ, the Reconciler, does not employ surface change. He’s interested in something completely new standing before Him as His bride.

The real question is, is the bride willing and ready to be transformed? Or does her transformation really translate into “trying out a new look” like someone tries out eyeliner or mascara? Is this a temporary cover up or a new yet permanent identity?

I don’t think Paul was interested in the Gospel he spread being a colonizing agent against the minority into the majority image. I don’t think Jesus wanted people transformed into the Pharisees image, or the Western church’s image, or the Methodist’s church’s image, or the Presbyterian Church’s image.

Both parties must change. And if both parties change that eliminates the backbone of this entire controversy: power.

In Christ, power is surrendered to His will. His transforming power overrides the power of the majority over and against the minority many are so eager to transform into their image.

Both parties are powerless and both parties are powerful in Christ alone. That’s it. Not powerful in budgets or buildings but in Christ. Money and longevity mean nothing. Both are beginning something new, and they’re doing this together, both as amateurs copying the Expert.

Don’t get circumcised for the wrong reasons. Don’t get circumcised at all. But rather accept the uncircumcised and the circumcised into your life because Christ’s death and resurrection wills us to. The laws and unwritten understandings and “this is the way we’ve always done it” mean nothing. But grace means everything no matter if you’re the majority of the minority…

…in Christ both have become beloved.

That is the picture of reconciliation. It refuses trends and patterns of acceptance and accepts anyway. It reject traditions that harm. It replaces custom with Christ.

I think Paul calls this grace.

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