Saturday, 20 November 2010

Belonging and significance

'Citizenship in the Roman empire, as in others of the sort, depends on lineage, power and financial means, and it classes people into first, second, third categories. Belonging, in Jewish cultural religion, also rested on family line and social status. In contrast, membership in the household of God is a gift: gentile and Jew, slave and free, women and men, old and young, people from South and North, East and West, people without all their limbs and wits and people with them, all belong, thanks to God's reconciling work in Christ.

'This new household, the Church, is built not on money, or power, charismatic leaders or individual saints, but on the foundation of the apostles and prophets: on the whole recorded history of God's work in God's world through God's people. When Rome claims that it's imperial power that holds everything together, and temples become symbols of dominion; and when today we are tempted to place our confidence in nations' military or economic power, big church budgets, or successive business ventures, and when denominational and institutional preoccupations easily become more important than people, then, with Paul, we must counter-culturally claim that Christ is the peace without which the entire construction would crumble apart. He is the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.

'Where, we asked at the beginning, does God live? Paul closes with this amazing and humbling affirmation: in Christ, you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. We, the Church, with all our imperfections, petty concerns, pride and prejudice, are God's holy temple, God's earthly home. Yes, by God's grace it is here: in the immensely diverse, transnational, transethnic, transcultural community, that God chooses to live. God lives in the new humanity, created by God, reconciled by Christ and indwelled and gifted by the Holy Spirit.'
- Ruth Padilla De Borst, at Cape Town 2010. Hear more here.

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