Wednesday, October 21, 2015

On The Gospel - The People of God II

YHWH has come for those who would be His people. He has come to rescue, to recover, to reconcile first Israel and then all of humankind to Himself. He has done this more than once in the history of the world. YHWH has come for His people out of His own initiative, not because those He seeks to find are guiltless or morally deserve His rescue, but as an act of grace. This grace, freely offered by YHWH and arising from His steadfast love for Israel and all people, is freely exercised. Paul will tell us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Before we had faith, before we repented, before we had come to our senses, YHWH effected the death of Jesus for the entire world.

The intent of this reconciliation offered first to Israel and then to the nations, is the same intent - to form and shape a people of YHWH who would be the name by which they are called. This people would both be faithful to YHWH and embody His character among the nations and each other. Their lives and message would be their calling, their burden, and their blessing for the world. These people would be a sort of incarnation; they would embody their God in this world. YHWH offers through His people, real life lived fully as images of Himself with and among each other. The glory of God is truly human beings fully alive.

But we have become distracted and have built religious institutions, complete with structure, rules, and set liturgies and we have called these the church. When Jesus promised to build His church, it wasn't one of these Sunday morning institutions to which He referred. He was referring to the very thing YHWH has always been after namely, a people who would be the name by which they are called. A people faithful to YHWH as their God, their strength, their protector, their defense, their example and master. A people who would embody the very character and image of YHWH as a wise, merciful, just, and faithful God, and be His people.

This then, rightly is the people of God, a people and all people who are faithful to and disciples of YHWH and Jesus, who have rescued them and given them life right now. They are not defined primarily by religious doctrine, ecclesial structure or rules, historical institutional continuance, or a culture-bound denominational name. They are defined by how closely they reflect the character of their God. As YHWH has told us, His people will be known by their love - for each other and for the world. These people are the only true people of God and it is this people that YHWH has been after since the beginning.

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