"By faith [Abraham] made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God."
- Hebrews 11.9-10
"How could Abraham endure? He looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. To what city did he look forward? There is no evidence that the hope of the resurrection was held in Abraham's day. Nor could he foresee any visible city, such as the Jerusalem of Solomon's time. His imagination ay have peopled this strange land with his descendants. He did look to the future. But his faith was in the God who would build the city with strong foundations. Faith in God confers no right to draw any blueprints of the coming city. We have our plans and hopes. But they are at best only partially fulfilled. History has an offspring in her womb that we cannot even fancy. But faith in the future rests on faith in God, by whose grace and wisdom the foundations of the coming city will be laid. What more could Abraham, or we ourselves, ask?"
Far too few US theologians are willing to draw the connection between the special chosen-ness theology of Western colonialism and Calvinism. Native theology is the missing link. It was the myth of "Manifest Destiny" that fueled Native genocide at the hands of European colonists. And "Manifest Destiny" is Calvinism concentrate.
T. J.'s bike chain routinely ejects itself from its toothy home on the crank of his bike and leaves him sad. Last month alone I probably reattached his chain a half-dozen times. This last time, as I was removing the chain guard with a screwdriver, a strange feeling washed over me. I thought, "I'm a dad. This is what dads do."
To be a "city within a city"* (an alternative Boston) that passionately loves JESUS, thoughtfully seeks JUSTICE for the oppressed, and intentionally forms a diverse FAMILY that serves and reflects our community.
*The imagery of a "city within a city" comes from the words of Jesus in the Gospel according to Matthew (5.14-16). Jesus tells his followers that they are a "city on a hill" whose relationships, character, and way of life show the world what God is like.
To be the "city on a hill" Jesus spoke of, the church must be a countercultural, alternative society of people who model the way life works in the kingdom of God. While, in the kingdoms of the world, race, gender, economic class divide people, in this new city, those divisions are destroyed. Instead, Jesus himself unites us in peace.
Being an alternate city means that we model alternate ways of doing life. We ask questions like, “How do we use our money, sexuality, and power? How do we treat the poor? How do we think of art, commerce, and education?”
When Lost was on the air I was heavy into the show, and was one of the many people disappointed by the "lack of answers" at the end. I felt like the writing on Lost promised the viewer a deep and profound mythology that it never delivered. Lindelof defends against this criticism by saying the show was always about the characters and not the mythology. That may satisfy some, but not me.
In any case, it wasn't Lindelof's defense of Lost's ending that made this interview fascinating to me. No, it was Lindelof's discussion of his position as Lost's writer and his relationship to the audience. His brief description of this dynamic at work while he was in charge of Lost, serves as an illuminating metaphor for our understanding of God's providence.
If you don't already know, Osheta and I are planting a church in Boston this year. The first 9 months we will be gathering interested, missional people to be part of our launch team while I serve on staff as a "Church Planting Resident" at Highrock Arlington and CCFC. After that we will be organizing launch team gatherings. Our goal is to have 30 committed adults by this Fall.
On this day of national remembrance for a minister of the Gospel, I thought it appropriate to write a piece that both honors Dr. King's memory while also issuing a fresh challenge for today to the church in the US. I'd like to briefly reflect on the Gospel in the New Testament with an eye toward how it might have implications for race, power, and table fellowship in US churches.
After Jesus' ascension, and after the church was endued with the power of the Holy Spirit, God used Peter to share the Gospel with the Gentile centurion named Cornelius. Peter initially objected to this mission (Acts 10.9-23). He was a 'good Jew.' He obeyed the Torah, including the call to be undefiled, separate from "the nations." Father Abraham was promised that his offspring would be a blessing, would reveal the Most High God, to the whole world—including the Gentiles. But by Jesus' time, those who called themselves Abraham's children saw the nations as enemies to be despised and avoided (Luke 10:25-37). Those who taught the Torah sought to justify themselves with the Scriptures (v. 29). But Jesus taught that even the despised Samaritans are 'neighbors' whom God's people are to show mercy (v. 36-37).
Peter was slow to catch on to Jesus' program, but eventually he got it. When he saw that the Spirit had led him to Cornelius, he said,
"I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right." (Acts 10.34-35)
And after he witnessed the Holy Spirit being given to Cornelius' household, just as He had been given to Jesus' Jewish disciples, he said,
"Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." (v. 47)
Peter's declaration that these Gentiles should not be prevented from receiving water baptism is highly significant. Water baptism is initiation into the one Church of Jesus Christ. Peter was so thoroughly convinced that Cornelius and his family were true disciples of Jesus, that he was willing to welcome them into the church and join them around the Lord's Table in fellowship.
Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.