Thursday, March 15, 2012

What Heaven Wants

I've been reading an article for college by William H. Willimon (of Resident Aliens fame) on the power of the Spirit of the Risen Jesus to create unity amongst cultural diversity and plurality.
The gospel is deferential and accommodating to no particular culture; rather, it is indoctrination, inculcation into a new and oddly based culture, namely the church. Thus Peter remembers Joel's prophetic vision of the crossing of gender, age, and social barriers (2:17-18). The result of Pentecostal empowerment by the Sprit is baptism (2:38), adoption by and enculturation into a new people, a holy nation, a light to all other nations, cultures, clubs, and means of human gathering. Thus many interpreters have seen Luke's list of hearers as an echo of the list of nations in Genesis 10. Pentecost is a day in which the linguistic divisions of Babel (Gen. 11) are healed. The same God who scattered the nations in order to prevent a united nations against God, now gathers and unites the nations in a new nation convened by God. The church is a sign on earth (2:19) of what heaven wants.

Willimon concludes the article with these heavy hitting words:
Acts says we are right to see the multicultural composition of our congregations as a kind of test of the fidelity of our preaching. I think Acts would also tell us that, whenever by the grace of God our preaching overcomes some cultural boundary, we are right to rejoice that God continues to work wonders through the word. Whenever we hear "multicultural" we are supposed to think "church," that peculiar cross-cultural people gathered by nothing other than the descent of the Holy Spirit.

It makes we wonder if we in increasingly diverse Sydney would meet this standard. "...[T]he multicultural composition of our congregations as a kind of test of the fidelity of our preaching."

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