Friday, July 27, 2007

A sensitive approach

Rachel Barenblat has written beautifully about our human condition - friends, and differences. How difficult it is to learn, to teach, and to accept each other when we have so many differences. The power, I think, for accepting others comes from accepting who you are in yourself. Lest this be too self-absorbed or self-centered, you must of course find yourself acceptable in a social context.

Of necessity, our individual social context includes a plethora of accumulated concepts in ourself representing entities outside ourself: our place as a child, or a man, or a woman, our abilities as we and others perceive them in school and work, the ways in which we receive approbation or criticism, the mistakes we make and how we react to them, our families whether nuclear or extended, the churches, local organizations, and political parties of our land, and the relationship to the wider world. In Biblical terms, these are the thrones, dominations, and principalities, the angels of the entities we are known in.

What is acceptable and what is rejected? That word rejected hurt my sensibility recently. Not because I was rejected, but because someone implied that the Father rejected Christ. Peter Kirk has accurately mediated in the discussion. There are things that are absolutely not true - and this is one of them. The essence of the Gospel is that Christ Jesus is a full perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. It is wholly acceptable and wholly accepted. Christ is Abel הָבֶל (vapour, breath, vanity - think James). More than empty (Eccl 1:2 הֲבֵל הֲבָלִים, havel havelim) he is the acceptable offering and the source of the true breath of God (רוּחַ ruach - so much punning in the imagery in Scripture - here is part of the source imagery of the creed concerning the Spirit, the Lord and giver of life - such breath as gives us substance - 'as makes his guest' George Herbert).

This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased (Hebrew ratson, used all over the place e.g. Psalm 85:1. Think also the year of Jubilee, the acceptable year of the Lord.) Such a statement is not rejection. God bears all things (check out Suzanne's lovely translation 1 Cor 13) in us through the work of Christ so that God who created heaven and earth may having created us, draw us, re-image us, and enjoying us fully, be all in all to us in the Beloved.

God in Christ has entered our social context and the principalities and powers have known that they have met their match as a source of identity for us. The struggle to find ourselves acceptable ends when we read that we are accepted in the Beloved. This absolute is something we can grow into fully and the consumation promised is one which Christ by the Spirit will confirm in us as we walk together.


Peter Kirk said...

Thanks, Bob. You have helped to clarify that my objection to "rejected" is based not only on abstruse trinitarian theology, but also on the very basics of salvation by grace alone, that Jesus was an acceptable offering to God, one which he did not reject. In him we too are accepted, not because of what we do to make ourselves acceptable but because God chooses to accept us.

Bob MacDonald said...

yes Peter, if Christ is not accepted, neither are we. The argument for resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15 refelcts the same thought. Ephesians 5 too shows just how far God has gone to transform our darkness into light. The same thought occurs to me as I reworked Psalm 67 this morning. The structure is something to learn from. (See related blog