THIS BLOG PROVIDES A MEDITATION ON THE EPISCOPAL DAILY READINGS ALONG WITH A HEADLINE FROM WORLD NEWS:
MAN DRESSES DOG IN MILITARY GEAR FOR BLESSING
10Brothers and sisters,* my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.
5 Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that ‘the person who does these things will live by them.’ 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ down) 7‘or “Who will descend into the abyss?” ’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say?
‘The word is near you,
on your lips and in your heart’
(that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because* if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13 For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
Paul insists that the trust of the heart in Jesus and public acknowledgment of that trust is the way in which God rescues all human beings everywhere. This trust has been aroused by an historical event-the life, death and resurrection of Jesus called Messiah, and therefore he does not proclaim that God is love but that God is love in Jesus; he does not state that God is simply available to all, but that God is available to all in Jesus. Although the gospel is universal it does not convey timeless truths but rather a specific name and narrative.This means that the Gospel must be communicated. Human beings will not of themselves arrive at trust in the only true God: they need the “rescue” of God which comes through the story of Jesus. Christians do not believe that all other religions are simply wrong – God has not left himself without a witness in any part of the world-but neither does it think that all beliefs are of equal value. They believe that Jesus was right about the use of violence not Mohammed; that he, not Buddha, was right about the Creator God; that he, not Moses was right about the forgiveness of sin. Therefore, although others think it socially, politically and morally unacceptable Christians will insist on re-telling the story of Jesus to anyone who wants to hear it.
I certainly do not think that those who belong to other religions or none are condemned by God; that would be utterly foreign to to the God revealed in Jesus. But I do know that I am commanded as a Christian believer to communicate the story of Jesus as a unique, and uniquely joyful, revelation of God.