mandag 19. desember 2016

What about “everything else?”

If everything that is not vital is taken away, and I am left with "the gospel in a nutshell" as described yesterday's reflection, what about “everything else”? I must admit that this question is one of the most challenging questions I have as a Christian leader, and it is also one of the areas where Paul may seem like an enigma.

When I interpret Paul, it can be confusing if one passage is read in isolation. Paul is very concerned that we are no longer under the law but under grace (1), but in the next moment, he makes clear exhortations with regard to interactions between Christians. I find this in many of his letters. One example: To the Corinthians he wrote:

God has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
2 Cor 3:6
However, no other church received so much rebuke from Paul as the Corinthians. He confronted them in strong words for their lifestyle, influenced by adultery and internal conflicts – or to use my phrase: "everything else."

“Everything else” does not concern the foundation of salvation, it is about living. That does not necessarily make it simpler, because some behavioural matters are culturally determined, while others may be pragmatic and strategic choices for achieving the most important goal.

Paul’s letter to Philemon proves this. It reveals that Paul sees the "master" Philemon and the "slave" Onesimus as equal brothers in Christ, but he hesitates to ‘order’ Philemon to accept Onesimus as a brother and not as slave, but he appeals to him to do it on the basis of love (2).

I think it is because transformed people will transform society gradually. The history of revivals show that transformed people can revolutionize a society. While revolutions caused by political revolt, does not have the same effect on the people inflicted.

This is important to keep in mind when I look closer at the interaction between Paul and Timothy. Tomorrow will look at some exhortations about church life.

'Manna' for today:

The less important must never overshadow the most important
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(1) Gal 5:6

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