The Blog of Gordon Pruitt the Pastor of St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Richmond Virginia

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Jesus Wants to Save Christians 1

Here we go. Chapter 1 of Jesus Wants to Save Christians starts with an introduction to New Exodus theology. The chapter is broken into 4 parts:Egypt, Sinai, Jerusalem, Babylon.

- The Jewish people are in Egypt, enslaved and oppressed to the superpower of their time. They cry out and God hears their cry. This is central to this book and is central to the character of God. "God always hears the cry of the oppressed." God not only hears, God acts.
"Think about your life. What are the moments that have shaped you the most? If you were to pick just a couple, what would they be? Periods of transformation, times when your eyes were opened, decisions you made that affected the rest of your life. How many of them came when you reached the end of your rope?"
God, as God always does, hears the cry of the oppressed, and sends Moses to lead the Jewish people out of Egypt. The Jewish people are lead out of Egypt and freed. But the story does not end here.

At Sinai, God speaks. Though Moses, God tells the people "you yourselves have seen what i did to Egypt, and how i carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself." It is by God's love and grace that they were delivered, redeemed, freed, from Egypt. God calls the people to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation". To be a priest is to show the world who God is and what God is like. I like how Rob and Don (no i don't know them) say "God is looking for a body" and this is what the 10 commandments is about. They have a choice, to obey God fully or not.

Jerusalem. Many years later, the group of former slaves are now living in the land that they were promised. Things are posh as my daughters like to say. Jerusalem gains a global reputation. They have been blessed, but do they remember Egypt, and how they were delivered? How God's grace brought them out? Do they remember God's words at Sinai? Before long the king, Solomon is building a temple to the God who freed the slaves, WITH SLAVES. "In just a few generations the oppressed have become the oppressors." They have completely forgot their own story.

Babylon. When you forget that God hears the cry of the oppressed, when you forget that God is searching for a body, when you forget this you miss what God had in mind. "At the height of their power, Israel misconstrued God's blessings as favoritism and entitlement. They became indifferent to God and to their Priestly calling to bring liberation to others."
This is exile. When you forget your story, when you find yourself a stranger to the purposes of God. Israel is no longer interested in being God's body as they chose not to listen to God's prophets. Jerusalem falls apart and before you know it, the people that were slaves in Egypt, and became slave owners in Jerusalem, were once again slaves in Babylon.

1 comment:

Alison said...

One of my most defining moments came at the end of my rope after God pushed me off the top of the rope; at the end He could talk to me freely.

Rob and Don point out that "sin always gains a head of steam when it goes unchecked. And that always leads to institutions and cultures and structures that are anti-kingdom. This leads to dehumanizing places. God's response is to form a nation shaped not by greed, violence, and abusive power but by compassion, justice, and care for one's neighbor." I know a place shaped by greed, violence and abusive power with dehumanizing places. I'm glad God is patient. I wonder when we'll reach that point when nothing more can be done?
I like how Rob and Don say that God said no idols because God's people were invited to show the world what He is like through their lives.
I also like how they say that Sabbath is the comand to take a day a week to remind yourself that your value doesn't come from how many bricks you produce. I think a lot of people need to take that day for that purpose.
The queen of Sheba points out that God gives wealth and power and influence so that those with the power would use it in on behalf of those who are poor, week, and suffering from injustice.