Congregational life at South Newnan is flourishing, with each week bringing new surprises and evidence, I think, of God's work among this group. A couple of us visited Newnan First Christian on Sunday. We met some wonderful people and made some good contacts. We were hoping to speak with the minister, but he was out of town, settling into a new pastorate in Missouri. Anyway, our hope was to talk to him about the North American Christian Convention in June, which a couple of us will be attending. More on that later.
I finished chapter 7 of The Politics of Jesus this afternoon. Here's a thought:
One universal demand which the church as an agency of counsel and consolation must meet is the need of men and women of all ages for help in facing suffering: illness and accidents, loneliness and defeat. What more fitting resource could there be than the biblical language which makes suffering bearable, meaningful within God's purposes, even meritorious in that "bearing one's cross" is a synonym for discipleship? Hosts of sincere people in hospitals or in conflict-ridden situations have been helped by this thought to bear the strain of their destiny with a sense of divine presence and purpose.
Yet our respect for the quality of these lives and the validity of this pastoral concern must not blind us to the abuse of language and misuse of Scripture they entail. The cross of Christ was not an inexplicable or chance event, which happened to strike him, like illness or accident. To accept the cross as his destiny, to move toward it and even to provoke it, when he could well have done otherwise, was Jesus' constantly reiterated free choice. He warns his disciples lest their embarking on the same path be less conscious of its costs (Luke 14.25-33). The cross of Calvary was not a difficult family situation, not a frustration of visions of personal fulfillment, a crushing debt, or a nagging in-law; it was the politically, legally-to-be-expected result of a moral clash with the powers ruling his society… (pg. 129)