super fly blog

Thursday, April 10, 2008

More Thoughts on the Back Porch

I was just reading N. T. Wright's The Challenge of Jesus, and I hit an interesting spot on the Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus promoted. Yes, the infamous Kingdom of Heaven, which has been greatly misinterpreted in the history of the Church.

The scenario in Jesus setting is that they are once again under foreign rule, and more than that, pagan rule, which was not viewed as a return from exile despite the return to their country. It is very intriguing that Wright notes that in the first century Jewish world there were three options as they waited for the messiah.

1. Separate yourself and wait for God to do something (Essenes)

2. Compromise with the authorities and hope that God will validate somehow (Herod)

3. Take up arms and fight the holy war that God will win through you(Pharisees and Zealots)

It is even more intriguing that Wright goes on to say that Jesus was none of these. This does not make any sense in even todays world. All three of these settings seem to make sense. Jesus actually combated these views through parables such as the seeds sown on on different ground and the prodigal son. If you want to see more about that read the chapter "The Challenge of the Kingdom". I'm not going to spell it out here because it would take too long. What Jesus is saying is yes to the end of the exile, but no to the way it was supposed to come according to the Jews of the day.

I find this kind of proposition seems crazy today when thinking of how we think today. These guys were following there own agenda, there own plan on how God was going to win it all. Jesus, however stepped up and said, "Dude, you got it all wrong. I'm coming back, but I'm the one doing a good work in you, so give up your plan, and trust me." Wright mentioned the term repent and believe. It might not be specifically used by Jesus to mean, stop your evil and find religion, but it might actually be meant for religious people to turn from their own understanding and lean on God's (sounds vaguely fimilar from the Old Testament).

Maybe you are rebelling against those who wrong you or those who you dislike for some reason. Maybe you are going to step aside and actually support what is bad in hopes that God will vindicate your so called "peacefullness." Maybe you just want to be separated from all contact and let God work it out.

In my own mind, I agree with Wright, because the pieces fit. And the three patterns go against the incarnation. If you take on #1 you have no chance of being incarnation, period. If you take on #2, you deny that the incarnation seeks to change the world through redemptive, ressurection living. If you go with #3, you deny that God wants to save all the world and includes all people(s) in His great and mighty plan.

These are just my thoughts after reading this chapter. I do hope we learn this perspective of repent and believe. I do hope we learn that we might be following our own wills instead of God's.

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