An Advent Text and Some Reflections on It

Advent text for the day:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the saving justice of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:16-21; NRSV altered).

Four reflections on this passage:

1. There is a unity of purpose from Christ’s incarnation to his ministry to his death and resurrection. These aspects of his work are inseparable from one another.

2. That purpose can be summarized in the words reconciliation, participation, and transformation. These aspects of salvation are inseparable from each other.

3. The reconciled are to be instruments of reconciliation, bringing people to peace with God and with one another. Salvation and mission are inseparable from each other.

4. Every Christian person, community, theology, and ethic needs to make reconciliation a central part of its identity.

The last point is the implicit claim of my latest book (The Death of the Messiah and the Birth of the New Covenant: A [Not So] New Model of the Atonement [Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2014]) and my forthcoming book (Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015]), each of which devotes two chapters to peace and peacemaking.

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