Thursday, April 23, 2009

Church in Crisis - Reconstituting God's People III

When we last posted in this series, we concluded that Jesus' 'program' was a profound Israel renewal movement in the light of the coming climax of God's dealing with his people. The heart of Jesus' aims is the center of God's aims for Israel, for the world, and the whole creation. In other words, the promises of God are refocused on and around Jesus. And this inevitably changes the what the people of God will now look like.

Firstly, there is a new community through a new covenant (see Mark 14.22-25). Just like the gathering at Sinai that had represented the beginning of corporate life for Israel, so the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples was symbolic of community in covenant that is sealed by blood. Except that this time it isn't the blood of animals, but of Jesus himself. The very essence of the new covenant community is Jesus on the cross: "we who are many, are one body in Christ, for we all share in the one bread."

Secondly, there is the task beyond Jerusalem and even Israel. Israel-renewed-around-Jesus can now achieve its original purpose. Therefore, Jesus commanded his twelve to go and gather all nations to him (see Luke 22.44-48).

The outcome? A new people of God The church of Jesus Christ. A new humanity under Christ is the result, with a great gathering of Israelites (see Acts 2.37-41 and 6.7) and the inclusion of Gentiles (see Acts 10.13-16 and 15.13-21) into Abraham's family of faith. God's old covenant people become God's new covenant people (the one's who get on board with Jesus) and those outside the old covenant are equal members of the new one, not because they join Israel (i.e. through getting circumcised), but as Habakkuk had seen, the righteous will live by faith. The outcome is of Jews and Gentiles united together in Christ.

However, many Israelites also rejected this vision for God's people (see Acts 13.46 and 18.5-6). And it's the apostolic reflection on this issue that we shall turn to next.

1 comment:

Mike Bull said...

I look forward to the next installment.