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A BRIDGE FOR COMMUNITY

Let’s be honest...explaining to others who we are as a church is not always an easy task.  With a name like “Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)”, you’ve said a mouthful, but you might find people looking at you like you haven’t clarified anything; or worse they may get the wrong impression.  I remember speaking with a woman about my church – upon hearing that we were part of the Christian Church (D.O.C.) she exclaimed, “that sounds like one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches!  Are you one of those ‘bible-thumping’ churches?”  I explained that yes, we do believe in the Bible, but no, we probably are not the stereotypical ‘bible-thumping’ church that she is thinking of...read more

 

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Entries in race relations (1)

Wednesday
Aug262015

CHRIST IS OUR PEACE: A SEASON OF SHALOM PART II

The final verses of the Hebrew scriptures are some of the most wonderful and heart rending words—and, unfortunately, not many of us have ever heard them.  The book of Malachi chapter 4, the last book of the prophets in the canon, ends with this prophecy: “Lo, I will send you the prophet Elijah before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.  He will turn the hearts of parents to their children and the hearts of children to their parents, so that I will not come and strike the land with a curse.”

Christians understand this prophecy as a foretelling of John the Baptist, who comes in the spirit of Elijah, just before Jesus’ ministry begins.  For us this prophecy also hearkens to a change of heart that God wishes to happen within his people—the transformation of the human family as hearts are turned back toward one another.

Fractures in the human family are easy to see.  Whether it’s big societal divisions like race relations, or the micro divisions we see happening between family members, hearts are often hardened towards one’s brother and sister, near and far.  Jesus sees this inevitably happening in families of early Christians as some became believers in Christ while other family members would not.  In Matthew 10 Jesus says he’s come “to set a man against his father and a daughter against her mother.”  Fractures in the human family go all the way back to the Garden of Eden—after Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, God says that the relationship between them will become complex and stressed—the sad fruit of relationship stress is witnessed when Cain, in a jealous rage, kills his brother Abel.  Fractures have divided us for a very long time and even Jesus admits that divisions will happen, but is it God’s will that these divisions remain unreconciled?

This Sunday, as we turn to Ephesians again, we will see that God’s eschatological (end-time) goal is not a continued division of humanity, but a single humanity formed in Christ.  In chapter 2:1-10, the writer begins by describing God’s healing of our broken relationship with God through Christ.  In verse 11, the writer then addresses what this means to the deep and obvious division of humanity into Jews and Gentiles.  (Understand as well that the division ran the other way too—citizens of Rome thought all the world was divided into Romans and barbarians.)  Whatever the differences in our DNA or lineage or place of birth, the writer emphatically declares that in Christ’s flesh God made both groups into one, and has destroyed the wall of hostility between us (Eph 2:14).  Having abolished the Law, God has created one new humanity in place of the two.

Notice too, when we say that God’s eschatological goal is one new humanity, the writer of Ephesians understands that the end-times are already here.  In Christ’s death and resurrection, the last days were inaugurated, and that new humanity is not a hope postponed for one day in the future, but is a reality here-and-now.  The war between humanity and God is over.  So too, the wars, large and small, between humans should find their end in Christ.

It’s hard to see how that works out in our world as the media is filled each day with news of ongoing fractures in our own homes, our communities, our nation and our world.  And practical answer is that sometimes these broken relationships don’t get healed in our lifetime.  But this is why we walk by faith and not by sight. 

And because some choose to walk by faith, reconciliation happens.  In my time as pastor I’ve seen incredible examples of forgiveness between individuals, between families, between whole peoples.  It takes time and work, but as we learn to stop eating the bitter fruits of selfishness and jealousy, God will fill us with the fruits of His forgiveness and peace.

I pray that you will seek and find reconciliation in your life too.

Shalom,

Rev. Dr. David Chisham