I am preaching on Ephesians 2: 11-22 in a few hours. After I had prepared that service I was thinking of the sad difference between the Bible and the frenetic supporters of Penal Substitution (who uncritically love Pierced for our Transgressions).
In this passage we hear how Christ has broken down the barriers between Jews and Gentiles. How Jesus has brought them both near to God and brought peace between them. How he set aside the law and put to death their hostility.
We hear how we are invited to be fellow citizens with God's people and part of his household. How we are being built together into a temple.
This is one of 1,000's of wonderful passages from Scripture that demonstrate how God includes people and how Jesus broke down human made barriers (and still does).
Fantastic! Wow! What a wonderful God we worship and serve!!!!
But so often we are not satisfied. The wall that kept gentiles out of the temple may have been destroyed but we keep building new ones. PFOT is another attempt to build a wall to keep those who do not believe the "right" things out. Sadly the supporters go even further. Instead of seeing the revolutionary inclusion that Jesus taught, died and rose again for, they see the need for division and exclusion.
Of the conservative blogs that I can cope with reading (too many is just too depressing) Adrian Warnock has been a champion of this division and exclusion. His recent play with words that attempts to call a spade an apple to dodge the charge of cursing those who do not accept penal substitution as the centre of the gospel just continues to dig the hole.
As you build walls higher and higher you can see less and less. You can interact with people on the other side of the walls less and less. Your view of the sky becomes smaller and smaller. You become cut off from the world. As you will notice from the comments on Adrians posts and from many of the linked posts many are rejoicing in the building of walls and the harsher the language the happier they are.
I challenge this view of the gospel. I challenge the mindset that
- fears others
- builds walls rather than bridges
- celebrates God's wrath rather than his love
- curses those that disagree rather than loves & forgives
- ignores grace
- believes in Salvation by correct thinking
- ignores Christian history
- denies the faith of the majority of Christians in the world
- that will not read anything they do not agree with
these things are not worthy of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, our Saviour.
If we take that mindset how would we have written John 3:16? "For God so loved the world that ...". One thing that we can be sure of is that it would not have read "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
Jesus says believe in me and you will not perish but have eternal life. Believe in him! Follow him.
I am just wondering how different our lives would be if all these enthusiastic Christians started tearing down the walls and started being part of the same temple (the one in Ephesians 2:19-22). How differently the world would see Jesus if we focused on him as the bridge between us and God & each other rather than building walls between us and God & each other.
Please join me in praying for Christian unity. Not uniformity, not some bland blend but a unity built on Christ where the walls come tumbling down and where his Kingdom is revealed.
Oh and you can pray for a larger dose of grace in me so that I don't get so wound up by people cursing me. It might help avoid ulcers in the future :-)