Our new life begins in baptism, where we are made children of God and heirs of the Rule of our Abba. This great and holy calling comes with a real danger to see that God’s covenant was with us, but did Jesus not say as the elder repeats week after week in the Eucharist, “This is my blood of the new covenant shed for you and for the crowd for the forgiveness of sins.” Or did Paul not say, “For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Were not all sinners? Yes, as Paul had just affirmed in his letter to the Romans. Salvation is not for the few, but for the whole earth.
And this is not dependent on us, for as God says seven times in the covenant with the whole earth after the flood, this covenant is made with all flesh, all creation, but it is dependent on God.
We humans have often become tribal in our survival thinking, our flesh thinking, that we roll back God’s calling and covenant to be about us. This sin was what brought the temple down and has led to sin time and time again. Indeed privation of good is how philosophers often describe evil. When we take God’s covenant and make it personal only we are on the road away from the New Jerusalem and we have tossed Christ’s yoke from our necks.
It often shows up in the simplest of errors, greeting only our fellow Christians, our friends, in the marketplace. Soon we are protecting ourselves from the very people we are called into new life for!
The followers of Jesus are to be a house of prayer for all the nations. We are a royal priesthood. And what does a priesthood do except represent God to the world and present the world to God!
We did not earn our belonging to God. We came home like the prodigal son; perhaps we expect to become servants again, but to be returned to our true created status seems to good to even dream. Did we earn it? No, if anything we have earned our condemnation, if we are to follow Paul’s logic. But this only makes sense if we understand the whole and holy good love that we have walked away from.
If God is the God of the so much of our theology, the angry score-keeping sacrifice-needing god of the pagan systems of sacrifice that has often replaced YHWH, especially in the deserts, then we would be brave to escape. We would be heroic to flee from such a god to the worship of self and pleasure. But oh, this misses the gospel by a mile or more!
We can only be said to have offended God if God is good. We have to know our true blessing to understand the offense. We have to return to ourselves to understand how far we have fallen from our true nature. This is what the “depravity of man” theology can totally miss. We were not created in sin. We were created in goodness, in blessedness, in order to be the blessing of God in the world. If we are to return to ourselves, we must see how we have become a blessing only to our self in our pursuit of pleasure, comfort, personal happiness. The tragedy is that in being a blessing only to ourselves, we have become a curse to ourselves.
This seems heavy handed in the world of self-worship. But it is simple. We were created for a purpose, to love God and care for creation including each other. We were meant to bear the image of a creative Creator in love to others. When we turn that to our self alone, we are like hunting doges kept in apartments, destructive creatures who are deeply unhappy. We destroy things seeking the true nature of our purpose.
O, unhappy fate, to be a Vizsla in a city apartment! We eat couches and chairs, dig up the furniture, and terrorize the cat looking for one moment of deep satisfaction. We make do with the small walks in the park of worship on Sunday when we are meant to run, to stalk, and pursue through the great hunting lands of Hungary!
Let us admit that a deeper purpose is calling us. In our pursuit let us turn our search outward to the welcome and service of others. Let us worship the good God, creator and Abba, YHWH who is always beyond our grasp but who welcomes us home in open arms; and let us study God’s ways in the Scriptures and in our deepest selves, in tradition, the apostle’s teachings and in fellowship. Let us look outward to our world, that God loves and Christ died for.
In practice, take a person, any person on the street, that you can see, and practice seeing them as God’s child, beloved. Can you see God’s delight in them?
Begin your day the same way, remembering who you are. Come to your self daily as a child of God among God’s children. Sit up straight, breathe deeply, and delight in our Abba who delights in you. This is the right beginning to set us on the way of salvation.
Do not be discouraged when you realize how far you have wandered from your calling, God is waiting for your return. The road may be short or long, but God will put a ring on your finger and sandals on your feet. He will put you again under the mantle of Christ your savior. Breathe deep and start walking.