Saturday, September 10, 2005

ordination paperwork: question #9

a) Theology
9) What is your understanding of (a) the Kingdom of God; (b) the Resurrection; (c) Eternal life?

a) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”[1] These words greet us in the first chapter of Mark, reminding us that the good news of the gospel is all about God’s reign, here, at hand. In Jesus, we experience a kingdom that is made present right now, even as we experience it as approaching, drawing near, with anticipation. In Luke’s gospel, we find Jesus reading the scriptures in the synagogue: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Today,” Jesus said, “this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”[2] The Kingdom of heaven that Jesus proclaimed and that the Church proclaims today is twofold – God’s kingdom now and God’s kingdom to be fulfilled. As the Church, we both seek to live into the Reign of God in proclaiming the gospel and seek to prepare for the future when God’s reign will come into fullness.
b) Resurrection is closely tied with an understanding of God’s reign. Like the kingdom of God, the resurrection also has a double meaning, a present and future reality. As Easter people, we are bound up in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We followed and follow him to the cross, and we saw and see him resurrected, with us still and in new ways.
In John’s gospel, we find Jesus talking about himself as the resurrection. He says to Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha answers that she believes her brother will rise again on the last day. But Jesus shows her a different meaning, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha, understanding, responds, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”[3] Jesus identifies himself as the resurrection and the life. Here, Jesus alludes to the actual events of his future in some ways, certainly. But primarily, Jesus speaks about a resurrection in another way. Jesus tells Martha that he is the resurrection and life now, he has power over death and life now. Jesus reorients our understanding of resurrection. Jesus saves, heals, and resurrects us now. As Martha says, Jesus is the one “coming into the world.” Jesus dwelling among us here in the world means that Jesus can change our lives, resurrect us, here, in the world. I understand resurrection to mean that which the disciples witnessed on the first Easter, but also to mean what Jesus promises for us – resurrection and new life where it seemed only death was possible. Jesus has the power to bring new life in us now, to resurrect us out of death and sin now.
c) Our understanding of what eternal life means is naturally bound up with the kingdom of God and the resurrection. Jesus was asked what must be done to gain eternal life. Jesus’ answer was to follow Jesus, give up everything, follow God’s commands, and most particularly to love God and neighbor. From the Discipline we read, “we pray and work for the coming of God’s realm and reign to the world and rejoice in the promise of everlasting life that overcomes death and the forces of evil.” The promise of eternal life is the promise that God is always with us and that Christ indeed has power over death.
[1] Mark 1:15
[2] Luke 4:18-19, 21
[3] John 11:23-27, emphasis added.
Post a Comment