Sunday, December 20, 2015

Sunday Reading: The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View #5

We are continuing to read through The Big Picture: Building Blocks of a Christian World View, by Brian Harris. Chapters six and seven continue the second section of the book which focuses on the “Big Building Block’s of the Christians Faith.”  Six is entitled, Amazing Grace: A Cross-Shaped Reality; Chapter 7 is Because the Three are One: Trinity and Community. I will be posting some quotes and a link to this post on my Facebook page and you are welcome to discuss the posts there. (The numbers after the quotes are Kindle locations not page numbers).
Chapter six is about what is probably the most unique aspect of Christianity: grace. It places the focus on God and His character and makes Christianity all about God and not really about us. It brings justice and love together as God treats sin as the serious violation it is, and yet saves humanity from its consequences and accomplishes what God intended in creation. By taking the penalty for sin into himself, Jesus defeated sin and its effects finally and decisively. Thus, it is only by God’s grace that we have access to Him. Those who have received grace do not earn it, but are changed by it.
Grace affirms that we are not treated on the basis of our merits but on the basis of God’s love and goodness…Grace is a cross-shaped reality. Our forgiveness comes at the price of the crucifixion of Jesus. 2091-2092, 2219-2220
To truly look at the cross is to be overwhelmed. It is to repent – to be deeply, forcefully, gut-wrenchingly sorry for repeatedly shaking the fist at the One who made us and loves us. It is to find ourselves begging for forgiveness and committing to a life of obedience and of following the One who died on our behalf. This is the justice of love – it actually changes the situation. 2254-2257
Real repentance leads to genuine transformation. And every law of God is really the love of God packaged in a practical and life-affirming way. 2283-2284
Chapter 7 discusses the doctrine of the Trinity and its implications for the practice of the church. The doctrine is very difficult to understand and explain and became “accepted dogma largely because the evidence of what God is like can’t easily be explained in any other way.” (2367-2368)  Basically each of the three persons are God but Father is not the Son or Spirit, the Son is not the Father or Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father or Son. In every action of God all three persons work together as one. (2384-2385) This is the God who is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. If God is eternally in relationship we, in the image of God, must also be in relationship. The body life of the church should reflect this. Harris sums this up by urging the church to reflect the Father as a “community of surprise,” to reflect the Son as “a community of embrace,” and to reflect the Spirit as a “community of witness.”

Orthodox Trinitarianism confesses an essential equality among all the members of the Godhead. None are greater in essence than the other…The God revealed in history is the God of eternity; the God revealed through Christ’s incarnation is the God of eternity. 2418-2419, 2457-2460
The revealed God is never an isolated, lonely God, but comes to us in the rich relational life of Father, Son and Spirit. To image such a God would therefore presumably require a comparable rich communal life in the entity that we call church. At the very least, the triune God is a rebuke to any excessive stress on individuality that comes at the expense of the life of the community. 2486-2488
A consequence of forgetting who we are is a willingness to embrace that which is lesser – and to the extent that sin is at least in part a falling short of the mark – embracing a smaller vision of what God intends for the church is part of the sinfulness from which she must repent. 2560-2562 

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