This blog offers a meditation on the Common Lectionary daily readings along with a headline from world news:
TURKS OPPOSE AUTHORITARIAN RELIGION AND POLITICS
2 CORINTHIANS 5: 12-end
No, I’m not recommending myself to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about me, so that you’ve something to set against those who boast of the face and not the heart. For if I’m “out of my mind”, it’s for God; if I’m sane, it’s for you.
For Messiah’s love compels me-
-since I’ve come to this conclusion: that one died for all, (so in a sense, all died!); and he died for all, so that the living might no longer live for themselves, but for Him, who died and rose again for them-
-his love compels me from now on to see nobody with worldly eyes; even if I’ve seen Messiah Jesus with worldly eyes, I no longer do so.
For if anyone is in Messiah, there is new creation: old things have slipped away; new things have arrived, all of which are from God, who reconciled me to Himself through Messiah, and gave me the ministry of reconciliation:
that God was in Messiah, reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning their faults to their account; and He has entrusted me with the word of reconciliation. So I’m Messiah’s ambassador, God making his entreaty through me. I plead on his behalf : be reconciled to God.
The One- who- knew- no- sin, God made him into sin for our sake, so that in him we might become the goodness of God.
Again today I’ve used my own translation of Paul. This passage is one of those concentrated utterances in which Paul describes the basis of his faith. It’s compressed, complex and easy to misinterpret. There are two sets of words/phrases:
1. one died for all, live for themselves, worldly eyes, faults, sin
2. rose again, new creation, reconciliation, goodness of God
These two sets indicate the height and depth of salvation. Jesus Messiah, he says, died for all because he voluntarily shared their worldliness and sin, their alienation from God. Nothing less than this is the meaning of Messiah’s death on the cross. He truly experienced God’s annihilation of sin and self. Nothing less than this is the extent of God’s love in Messiah Jesus. Those who identify with him come to the end of this world, the end of all sin and selfishness; these are dead.
Jesus Messiah, he says, also was raised to life, not somehow resuscitated, but re-united with the aliveness of God. Those who identify with him are likewise re-united with God, in friendship with God, destined to grow into his goodness.
Paul sums up this extraordinary transaction in the laconic language of debt collection: God has made friends with the world by neglecting to enter their faults in their debit accounts. But this language scarcely does justice to the fact that God in his Messiah has identified himself with human sin, so that human beings may identify themselves with him through his Messiah.
In analysing this material I recognise that Paul’s theology is a compressed narrative of God’s love in Jesus Messiah. In this respect it is not different from the books we call Gospels, although of course it was written thirty or so years before them. We can see it as a bud of which the Gospels are an unfolding. Paul’s story tells us hardly anything about Messiah’s earthly life but it wonderfully expresses the way in which Messiah Jesus is the beginning of God’s re-creation of the universe and reconciliation of human beings.
Who am I? I am a selfish wrong-doer heading for death. But in Jesus Messiah God has got there first and dares me to unite with his self-annihilating love. When I do so, I find myself, here and now in the midst of life, made part of his new creation and drawn painfully to enter his goodness.