Today: Sunday, August 25, 2019
 
 

New World    (7/15/2018 )



I was once visiting an elderly member of our congregation.  It was her birthday.  “In all your 90 years,” I said, “you must have seen many changes in the church.”  Certainly, she had, and then she went on - "And I’ll tell you another thing, I don’t like you!”  I was only a young minister at the time, and supposed it was OK for a 90 year old to be so blunt.  But I was mightily relieved a moment or two later when it became clear she wasn’t being personal, but saying she didn’t like the change of language in the prayers from ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ to ‘you’!

I’m afraid we didn’t change our prayers back for her sake, but she had a point.  Leaving behind the older English language does mean there is no distinction now between the singular and plural.  When we say “you” there is no way of knowing, as there used to be, whether this is to one person or everybody.

The point is significant in reading the Bible.  If we say “Christ died for you,” is the emphasis on you personally or is it about everyone?  What becomes clear very quickly, however, is that there are many more plural uses of ‘you’ in the Bible than singular.

When Jesus died and rose again it was not just for my sins and sinfulness, it was for all.  It’s clear in the most familiar of all Bible verses, John 3, verse 16 - “God loved the world so much he gave his Son…”

In Florida, some years ago, we learned that “y’all” meant “all of you.”  God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice is “for y’all.”

And there is a bigger meaning still.  God’s purpose in sending Jesus was not, as it were, to pick up a few followers here and there, but to change the whole world, in fact the whole universe.

In one of the most daring of all claims, Paul writes of that grand plan - 

Through the Son (Jesus) God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself.  God made peace through his Son’s death on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.” (Colossians 1, verse 20)

In other words, the cross triggered a movement of reconciliation between God and creation itself in which all humanity can be caught up.

Jesus often used the language of the Kingdom of God.  We are familiar enough with governments of many kinds, some benign, some oppressive, some nationalistic, some dictatorial.  We are also aware of the power of money and industry, of the media and public opinion.  What Jesus was talking about was a world in which all powers and people become subject to God’s rule - a rule that is shaped by the powers of love, sacrifice and service. 

Jesus’ death and resurrection are not only about my salvation, my relationship with God, but with the shaping of a whole new world - for the good, the salvation, of all.






Prayer:

Lord Jesus, by your great sacrifice, turn the nations and governments of the world back to God, that all may know God’s saving grace and live under God’s good rule.

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