Oh so quiet here of late. A combination of reasons for this, including the change of rhythm now the kids are off school, and trying to write a substantial manuscript on Ephesians 4 identity, without pre-empting it with blog posts – a great temptation! I’m hoping to gather lots of stories to be told...
At least the sun has finally put in an appearance.
Some thoughts on this coming Sunday’s lectionary readings, Mark 6:1-13 and 2 Corinthians 12:2-10.
Mark 6:1-6 Jesus is ‘without honour’ – experiences a religiosity that refuses to welcome him and puts pressure on others to not welcome him either.
Mark 6:7-13 Jesus sends out his disciples to extend his mission – including sharing in his experience of rejection – but where they are welcomed, they are used by God to bring deliverance and healing.
2 Corinthians 12:2-10 the context is Paul’s experience of rejection and being without honour; of a religiosity that refuses to welcome him and puts pressure on others to not welcome him either. Paul speaks of intimate relationship with God, but also of a ‘thorn in my flesh’ – reference to Numbers 33:55, other people who, if not removed, undermine the relationship between God and his people (a splinter in your eye and a thorn in your side, cf. Jesus telling people to deal with the plank in their eye before commenting on the splinter in someone else’s, to consider whether the company we keep keeps us from God before passing judgement on the company other people keep) – reference to those who followed Paul everywhere he went, telling new Christians they needed to become cultural Jews. Paul cites this opposition in another context of opposition. Previously, Paul had tried to root out his opponents - the Christians – with violence, but now understood that taking such action was not an option open to him, so asked Jesus to intervene on his behalf; Jesus responds instead with reassurance of sufficient grace, and of his power made perfect in weakness. These attacks keep him from becoming conceited, keep him dependent on Jesus.
Jesus and Paul both testify to an intimate relationship with the Father; both testify to the resources of heaven available to those who welcome Jesus; both testify to opposition from those who ‘know better’ than them.
The consequence of intimacy with God is opposition from those who do not experience such intimacy. The grace we need in the face of opposition is available through intimacy with God. If we don’t have intimacy with God we won’t experience opposition, or grace and power in our lives.
Are we pursuing intimacy? How do we deal with opposition?
To begin, a paradox:
God created each and every living thing, including every human being (e.g. Psalm 139); and,
God created all living things to be reproducing, self-sustaining species, to be fruitful and increase in number (Genesis 1).
Every human being carries the code of life; a code expressed in them in a unique way; a code which can combine with the code carried in a corresponding other to create a new and unique life.
All but wipe out humanity, and we would begin again, according to God’s blueprint. All but wipe out the Church, and she would grow again, according to Jesus’ distribution of his likeness through humanity.
Every human being is at a fundamental level created an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd or a teacher (abbreviation APEST; Ephesians 4); made to be a pioneer, a visionary, a recruiter, a nurturer or a trainer; as we share in the family likeness that is carried and perfectly expressed by Jesus, the one who has also liberated, and is liberating, his brothers and sisters.
Every human being carries the potential to be an apostle, a prophet, an evangelist, a shepherd or a teacher within them.
This coded matrix (APEST) configures in patterns that nuance the way in which we express the image of God; how, as we acknowledge him, we express the likeness of Christ – and this ‘nature’ combines in turn with ‘nurture,’ with the particular life experiences we live through, and the community contexts we are found in (for the person only exists in relation to other persons), to further flesh-out what Jesus-in-us (both personally and communally) looks like in the world. In other words APEST is not merely a question of role (whether ‘in the church’ or ‘in the world’) but is core, in ways that we have yet to significantly explore, to person-ality and preference.*
And this potential is passed on, combined with another code, to create new persons. So, I am a P who is significantly nuanced by A, and to lesser degrees by T, S and E; married to a S who is significantly nuanced by P, and to lesser degrees by T, A and E. We have three children, still too young to know with any degree of certainty what they have been created to be – it could be any of the five, in any combination and variance of degrees, as we, as parents, carry and pass on the full potential – but we have the privilege of helping them discover and grow-into what Jesus has given them as, and for...
*I would love to see more mapping of APEST combinations against MBTI combinations.