Monday, January 10, 2005

living in the new atmosphere

i have been doing a series at kairos los angeles that is entitled "the new humanity". it is a quick study through the book of ephesians. i say quick, because eight weeks is hardly enough time to dive into each section as i would like. sometimes i wish i would have made it a 16 week series, possibly divided by another series. next time.

yesterday we covered ephesians 2, so i thought i would share with you my summary of the chapter. if you want to download the entire teaching, you can do so with no cost.

now for the summary of eph.2 in the context of our time:

paul starts off reminding us that we were we were all born and shaped by an atmosphere in which the god of this world has polluted, and as we breathe in this poisonous air, it leads us to live for ourselves or for the "american dream" or anything other than God. and if the atmosphere in which we live our lives is centered on another person, the state, the need for approval, our self-image, work or the pursuit of pleasure, instead of God, we will be enslaved by that idol and lead lives disobedient to the creator and owner of the universe.

so God stepped in, by his grace, and placed us into a completely different atmosphere, one in which the air is pure and filled with mercy and love. he seated us, both jew and gentile (bitter enemies) together with Christ. God's work of salvation, bringing us from the atmosphere of the devil and self-interest, into God's new world, God's atmosphere, is a work of grace and a gift of God. and as we live in the atmosphere of love and mercy, together with those who have been bitter enemies, we become God's master poem to the world, his living letter for the entire world to see, even the cosmic powers.

for in God's new atmosphere and world, it doesn't matter how far off someone may be, or how close they may be, God abolished the walls between gentile and jew, and the implication is that now God is into building bridges instead of walls, bridges to every kind of person and people from every kind of culture. for when there is unity in diversity within the church, the church becomes a reminder of the pledge of the overcoming of all divisions when the cosmos is restored to harmony in Christ.

as the church becomes a people from a wide variety of cultures, races, classes and backgrounds, then we will be living out the good news, and will be the kind of movie trailer that God wants to provide to a world of division, hatred and violence.

then paul takes one of the central symbols of judaism, the temple, the place in which the God of israel has promised to live, and declares that the living God is constructing a new temple, not made with stones, but with human beings. and that the living God is now seeking to inhabit communities of people who are loyal to Jesus, who by living in His atmosphere of love and mercy, create an atmosphere that breaks down walls of division and builds bridges to those far away and those near, for the refugees and the assylum seekers, so that everybody would find a place that they could call home, and we would all find that home in God himself.


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