Monday, September 19, 2005

8. New Creation. I chose this topic because of the number 8. In the first century, Sunday was referred to by some in the community of faith as the 8th day. By designating it this way, they aligned their movement with the creation narrative in genesis. The overall idea was that God had rested on the seventh day from his glorious act of creating the cosmos, but, through the Christ Event, had entered into another phase of fresh creative power. This time, it was not the cosmos, but people. He set his hands to restore his image in humans.

God had begun creating again. He had risen up off his throne, looked over the banister of heaven and explosively spoke into humanity a new existence. This new art work of God is displayed first to the powers and then to the world. Because of this, Paul says: "If any person is in Christ, they are a new CREATION. Old things have passed away. BEHOLD! All things have become new."

Being the art work of God throws us into an entirely new framework for the activity of God among us. It parallels our story with the creation narrative. It allows us to imagine ourselves within the creation event. The image of God is being shaped with in us by the master sculptor. His character and nature is steadily being pressed into us. His hand carves out our pride, and vanity, the Spirit of God moves upon us as in the beginning, perfecting the work of "separation" and finishing the process of forming and filling. We are the New Creation.

This concept of new creation emerges in an interesting place in one of Paul's letters . In Galatians: "Neither circumcision, nor uncircumcision is anything. But a NEW CREATION." It is interesting that this concept surfaces in a discussion of legalism. Legalism has a way of attracting your attention to boundaries, rules and regulations. It fixes our affections on powerless rituals and systems, thereby diverting our focus from the creative power of the Good News. Legalism eclipses the brightness of Gods glory, overshadows the work of Christ, and replaces it with guilt, pride, shame, and fear. All of these negative products of legalism are antagonistic to Gods work in us. They frustrate the process of transformation. Legalism, because it is antithetical to New Creation, is rejected by Paul. If you are familiar with the fruits of legalism, this does not suprise you.

What is even more interesting is when Paul says that uncircumcision is not to be placed on a pedestal either. Paul is guiding us away from a dualistic position towards legalism and law keeping. When confronted with heresy, we are tempted to define ourselves by what we are not. Taking a stand against something brings with it the tendency to "stand still" on that very conviction, making "it" our defining charachteristic. Our identity in Christ is not rooted in an after thought from religious controversy. Paul would say, "So your circumcised? This is of no benefit to you. This is not what the Good News is pointing us to." He would also say "So you have refused circumcision based on your freedom in Christ? .........And? This is not where the Good News takes us. Uncircumcision should not function as another form of "circumcision", vainly placing you in a a so-called superior position to the legalist. This is not the symbol of your identity."

Paul is saying that the agenda of the Good News is purely about New Creation. It's purpose is not to promote groups or cliques based on decisions that are reactionary towards legalism or traditionalism. This is too short sighted. It is too fleshly. The big picture is NEW CREATION. The Good News is about God's ability to break into our lives, overpower our darkness and shine the glory of the light of Christ into our deflated existence. To form and fill us with his presence and nature. How does he do this? Through the creative power of the cross and resurrection of Christ. This is what the Good News is about. God has begun creating again through a crucified and raised messiah. He is forming and filing....again. And the question is not, "Are you circumcised?" or "Are you uncircumcised?" As if this is what the universe revolves around. The real question that we must ask ourselves is this: Am I resisting the creative power of the cross?

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