Monday, September 18, 2006

embracing grace 2: the beginning of the gospel

In chapter two, Scot McKnight takes us to the beginning of the Bible:
The gospel begins at the Bible's beginning. If we fail to begin there, we will miss the gospel.
This beginning has to do with our identity as human beings. First, God creates the heavens and the earth. And only after he creates humankind, does he pronounce his creation "very good." (Genesis)

Humans are said to be created in the very image of God. The Greek word used to translate the Hebrew (in the Septuagint- LXX- the very first Bible translation, and used by the apostles) is eikon. An eikon reminds us of icons in Orthodox churches, or computer icons. They are like windows, that can lead the viewer into the reality which they represent.

Humans are not just individuals, to fend for ourselves as to our identity. Instead, we are Eikons of God, made to embrace God, ourselves, each other and the world. In response to God's embracing grace of us, in Christ, by the Spirit. And thus, we can "glorify God by enjoying him forever." And live in community for the good of each other and the earth. God's gifts to us of "freedom and relationships with others" are inherent to us being eikons. We freely relate to God, ourselves, each other and the world, as God relates to us and his creation.

Mister Fred Rogers, himself an ordained Presbyterian minister, impacted a generation of young people in helping them see that they are not dirt or scum. But very special. And as such are to live as those in their neighborhood- seeing others also, as very special.

The rampant individualism of our culture has left people out in the cold as to who or what they are. In isolation from the Story of God, they can only fend for themselves. But as C.S. Lewis wrote:
Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.
Then Scot McKnight adds: "The gospel begins right here."

How do you see yourself? How do you see others? Why are these considerations the beginning of understanding the gospel of God's embracing grace? And what would this embracing grace look like in your world? What changes may this involve?

(These postings are more or less interactive with Scot's chapters. And therefore do not necessarily represent precisely Scot's thoughts. Though my goal is mainly to represent his thoughts. We can do more interaction with them on comments.)


Ted Gossard said...

For me this really involves a radical reassessment. Yes. I think I've always believed humans are special. And that the real basis for that is found in God. But I've struggled because I often haven't seen much in the way of the embracing grace, Scot talks about.

So for me, it has been (and continues to be) a journey of learning to live in a way that sees this embracing grace from God as being at the center of what life in Christ is to be about. In loving God with our all, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Bob Robinson said...

For me it requires a radical change from the way I used to think about humanity in general. I came to faith in a tradition that pretty much said that humanity is basically evil and ugly and depraved and unworthy of God's love.

In other words, it was an anthropology that started and ended with the Fall.

But the radical change is this: The gospel begins at the Bible's beginning. And the beginning says that humanity is the very image of God (the eikon)! And redemption is about restoring that eikon.

I am trying to retrain myself to see the people around me in light of that potentiality...that they are meant to be glorious image-bearers, that that eikon is still there, though cracked, and God desires more than anything else to restore these people to that glory!

Ted Gossard said...

So very well said. Thanks so much!