Joshua 5:9-12. A little obscure, but fascinating. Could title a sermon “Rolling Stone,” as the story intimate there were large round stones to mark where Israel crossed the Jordan (“Gilgal” is translated “rolled”). The notice that “the manna ceased”: is this good news? Thank goodness, we’re so tired of that crusty, tasteless food, every day for decades? Or is there some nostalgia? We miss the good old days when we were so close to God, so dependent upon God’s daily gift? Now we have to be responsible, to labor hard for it all?
2 Corinthians 5:16-21. Reconciliation: if any word sums up what the life of faith is about, here it is. We are reconciled to God, and we go about the business of reconciliation with others. What could be more needed in our fractured world? And more arduous, well-nigh impossible?
Before the pandemic, my church had a significant series on Reconciliation; check it out! A seasonal emphasis drills in to our folks that this is serious, hard, marvelous. It’s weirdly beyond forgiveness. A restored relationship – although care must be taken not to make the abused feel they need to feel good about their abusers, and so on.
Paul’s counsel, “Regard no one from human point of view,” is the baseline for Christians functioning in the world – but do we even try? Culture wages aggressive war against this ministry – and thus against our own personal sense of being reconciled to God! Christena Cleveland (in Disunity in Christ) is especially sharp on the nature of the work of reconciliation. We can meet God in our cultural context, but then to follow God we must cross over into other contexts. She explains how “group polarization” works – we experience confirmation of our views because of our narrow social circle or social media tricks. Church makes it worse! God calls us to “cognitive generosity,” as we expand our “we,” and discover the fruit and joy of the hard labor of reconciliation.
Notice Paul begins with “from now on” – assuming the saving work of Christ and consequent community engagement and commitment to holiness he’s just talked about. This is totally new – a “new creation.” The Christian isn’t 14% nicer or 11% more generous. We are all new. And we see others through new eyes. Echoing the haunting truth that “God does not see as we see” (1 Sam. 16:7 – when David was the one chosen, not the taller, more muscular sons of Jesse).
watch it for yourself!