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Introduction: This mini-series of Reconciliation & Transformation is part of ‘fishing the world’ to turn the church outward to engage in social transformation. I’m teaching on this because of the growing racism and polarization in our nation. Plus, the Church ought to be the reconciler and healer in society. I shared my story of crossing the divides in SA under Apartheid to seek reconciliation with brothers and sisters in Soweto. Then we had two weeks of story telling from people representing the major race groups in SA. Our stories of racial consciousness and hurt only find redemption and meaning to the extent they become part of and are interpreted by God’s Greater Story of Reconciliation and Transformation – else we may become imprisoned by anger and hatred.
Reconciliation is to ‘make peace’ (restore Shalom) by removing the cause of alienation and division, thus making the two one again (Matt 5:9). And transformation is a change of heart, attitude and behaviour, by God’s Spirit and our responses to his work in us.
So, here is the sweeping storyline of God’s work acted out in human His-Story:
God’s Seven Act Drama of Reconciliation & Transformation.
Act One: CREATION – God’s Garden of Delight
In the beginning God created all things ‘good’. He then created humanity (Adam & Eve) in his image and likeness (‘very good’) to rule under God over creation through Shalom. Shalom is more than peace: it’s God’s order, wellbeing, harmony & abundance, through right relationship with God, ourselves, each other and creation. The Garden of Eden (‘Delight’) was a replica of heaven on earth: Adam & Eve were ONE with God, each other and creation, in an exquisite eternal dance of delight, love and community. Continue reading Reconciliation & Transformation: God’s 7 Act Drama of His-Story
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Recap on Servant Gifts (1): I made three basic points regarding the practice of servant gifts to form – and be formed in – Jesus’ community: 1) The local church is Christ’s Body, that operates organically by spiritual gifts (charisma, “enabling graces”) given through each member. 2) The right motivation (heart) and context (attitude) for the operation of the gifts is servanthood. The gifts are service (“ministry”) in Jesus’ name to one another; thus we speak of servant gifts. 3) The model of servanthood is Jesus, the Servant of YHWH who, in his service, suffers our sin and brokenness in love, to cleanse, enfold and heal us into his life and community (as he dramatically enacted in John 13).
Peter summarises this well: “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Pet 4:10). God’s graces fall into two categories: supernatural gifts (by direct Spirit inspiration) and natural talents (by birth and training). Both are spiritual gifts because they are all God-given. The challenge is: are we faithful stewards of God’s multiple enabling graces, that come through each other in all their rich diverse forms, to heal and grow us to maturity in Christ?
Paul on Servant Gifts in the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12:1-31)
Paul gives specific teaching on spiritual gifts in 1 Cor 12 (“manifestation gifts”, written in 54 AD), Rom 12:1-8 (“motivational gifts”, in 57 AD), and Eph 4:7-12 (“ministry-gifts”, in 60 AD). I examine each of these passages in that order to reflect Paul’s developing thinking.
The context of 1 Cor 12 is Paul’s teaching on public worship services – when the church gathers together (see 11:33, 14:26) – from chapter 10 to 14. It’s essentially about the local Body of Christ functioning organically in relational harmony through spiritual gifts. Continue reading Forming (in) Community: Practicing Servant Gifts (2)