Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The bright day

Something of a follow up to my riff on friendship at the foot of the cross last Christmas.

In Galatians 6 Paul considers the community of the cross. A member of the church sins. No shock, rather the spiritual are to restore the sinner. Like Paul with Peter they walk the one who has gotten out of step with the Spirit/gospel back to the cross. The presence of sin among Christians always has this opportunity for glorying in the cross together. In the house of law sin is an opportunity for condemnation and one-up-manship, in the community of the Spirit it is the day of grace.

Bonhoeffer: Even when sin and misunderstanding burden the communal life, is not the sinning brother still a brother, with whom I, too, stand under the Word of Christ? Will not his sin be a constant occasion for me to give thanks that both of us may live in the forgiving love of God in Christ Jesus? Thus, the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words and deeds, but only by the one Word and Deed which really binds us together–the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. When the morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship . . .

The presence of sin, as Paul told Peter doesn't make sin ok. It's just that it sin isn't the end of the road. My life in the flesh is finished and my new life is as a Son of God in the family of God's people. In that new life I belong to my brothers - I can care for them, and them for me. That's no excuse for spiritual-laziness, and indeed I need to watch myself because getting out of step with the gospel is all too easy to do. The lies of sin are very tempting because they often look so holy and self-righteousness tastes so sweet.
The way of the cross is harder but brighter, costly but richer. Gathered around the cross, honest about sin and seeking to restore one another we can enjoy the bright day of fellowship at the cross. I'd love to enjoy lots of that in 2008.

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