Saturday, June 4, 2016

Year C, Proper 6, 4th Sunday after Pentecost, Galatians 2:15-21, Luke 7:36-8:3, "That she is a sinner. .."

Rule #1:  It is not about what you do.
Rule #2:  Nothing you can do, changes rule #1.

To be a family means many things to many different people, I suppose.  When I think about family, and particularly the relationship between a parent and a child, what stands out to me is a simple truth that most of us intuitively understand.  To be family, is to be loved, and to live in the assurance that you always have been loved, and always will be loved.  A mother never withholds her love from the child within her womb, pending the child's demonstration of just what type of person they will become.  Nor does a father withhold his love because of the choices a child makes.  The heartache, disappointment, even anger a parent feels toward their child, at times, are felt precisely because their child is loved.  The love that binds us together, simply is not in any way related to what we do, or do not do.  It is a gift.

"If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him—that she is a sinner."

And so. . . your point is?

"We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners."

And so. . . your point is?

Lutheran have prided themselves on having a theology that is unapologetically Christocentric, and in that context, maintaining that 'justification by faith' is the article on which the Church stands or falls.  This I do not deny, but I have a bone to contend with it.  Too often we see Christ and the justification that is ours in him, as a remedy for what we have done or left undone.  In doing so we continue to see human action as the determining factor in the relationship between God and humanity.  Even our most evangelical proclamations focus on  "since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;  they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,".

More and more I have come to the conclusion that something is missing in this Christocentric focus.  Namely, that our relationship with God began in the garden, not on the cross.  It began with creation, not with redemption.  Justification by grace, as a gift, can only be fully understood within the context of our being from creation, children of God, created in his image, and that nothing in all of creation "will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  This love of God is a gift of grace from the beginning.

Justification, then, needs to be understood in the context of a family relationship, not a courtroom.  " And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."  I believe that our relationship with God is all about the love that God has, always has had, and always will have for us as his children -- and, the great length that God will go to in order that we might be fully embraced by that love.  It is about love and reconciliation.

And so there is this matter of a woman.  A "sinner".  "If this man were a prophet, he would have known. . ."

And to that one might respond:  "And if you were a parent, you might understand. . ."

As a parent, I'm certainly not perfect.  But this I know, that through all of the successes and, on occasion, failures of my children (though I'm somewhat uncomfortable with that language), there is nothing that could ever change the love that I have for them.  In fact, it is often during the most difficult of times in their life that I become more keenly aware of how deeply I care for them.

" And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

This is not about the "works of the law".  Nothing we can do merits God's love.  Nothing we can do can separate us from the love of God.

Rule #1:  It is not about what you do.
Rule #2:  Nothing you can do, changes rule #1.

God's gracious love has been given to us from the beginning, and will be with us through the end.  It is pure gift.  To even consider that it is contingent on our own righteousness, or even our pardon, is to miss a truth that is so clear to any lover;  Love is never, ever, in any circumstance a reward.  It is always unconditionally given.

1 comment:

  1. To put it another way, its not just that your sins are forgiven, its that it was never about your sins in the first place. . .