Theosis: Becoming the Gospel

    May 01, 2016

    Preacher: William (Tex) Culton


    Acts 16:9-15; John 14:23-29; Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5; Psalm 67

    Theosis – Spirit enabled transformative participation in the life and character of God revealed in the crucified and resurrected Messiah Jesus – is the starting point of mission and…its proper theological framework.

    Michael J Gorman: Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission,

    Believers are called to “become” the gospel through participation in the divine life.

    Now, let’s get to Goodbye!  AND the disciple’s grasp of what Jesus was trying to tell them in his farewell address at the Last Supper…

    Two things come to mind: “Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles and my children when Kendel and I would be going out for the evening.

    You say “Yes”, I say “No”
    You say “Stop”, I say “Go, go, go”,
    Oh no.
    You say “Goodbye” and I say “Hello, hello, hello”.
    I don’t know why you say “Goodbye”, I say “Hello, hello, hello”.
    I don’t know why you say “Goodbye”, I say “Hello”.
    High and low….

    Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples and they just don’t want to hear it.  Read all of John 14 and you’ll get the picture of your children asking anxious questions when you are about to leave for an engagement.  “Where are you going? Can we go too? What will you do while you are gone? Who will stay with us?

    Jesus answers the first question: “I go to prepare a place for you.” 14:2

    He answers the second: “Where I am going you cannot come, but you will come later.” 13:33, 36.

    He answers the third: “Love each other as I have loved you.” 13:34.

    The fourth question: “Who will stay with us?” He addresses no fewer than five times.  Today’s scripture includes the second of these.  He has already said, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever.  This is the spirit of truth…he abides with you and in you (or among) you.” (14:16) Now he adds (14:26) “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

    Christ’s “Goodbye” was really, “Hello”.

    He was not leaving them as the world would understand leaving.  The love with which Jesus loved them would not, could not, be taken from them.  It was “Love from the Father” and has been deemed “Cruciform Love” or Love for the other!  He left them with this love and told them how to retain their love for him…..

    “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them”……………….

    Goodbye – Hello!

    I’ve just come back from a funeral in Florida of a friend.  I often read John 14 and Rev. 21 at funerals and remind fold that all Love is from God and is therefore “eternal” and when we have been loved by someone, it becomes a part of us – like air is a part of us, but not us, yet it sustains us!  That is the part we retain of another, and it is the best part of all.

    Do you know what I think is the most difficult part of grief?  Not that we don’t have the departed there loving us.  It is that we don’t have that person to love.  We miss having a place to put our love!

    Jesus told his disciples that they could continue to love him by loving each other! Love others as you have been loved.

    As I grow older I find that remembering what folk have said is difficult.  But that’s not just a condition of age.  Much of the time we are so anxious that we don’t really listen.  We call it distracted or interested in something else, but it is a fear driven condition.  We hear only what we want to hear!  The way to remember what others have said and the way to be able to listen is to listen with the heart. 

    I feel this is possible by accepting the peace that Jesus promised his disciples.  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

    The church developed during the “Pax Romana”…a peace that was enforced through power.  Not really a peace, but the absence of war (though that was never the case).  Jesus was beginning a counter culture based on His peace that is given by God.  This is a peace that knows that you are loved with an eternal love by a God who is with you, beside you and in you as much as the air you breathe.  (When Jesus appeared in the upper room after his resurrection, he breathed on the disciples and bid them receive the Holy Spirit!)  

    The world competes for honor.  Everything is a competition for the top spot, acceptance and success!  Jesus gives us His peace: we are loved with an eternal love not dependent on how well we do in this competitive world.  God’s love is not meted out according to our accomplishments.  Knowing that is knowing the Peace of Christ that calms the troubled heart and overcomes our fears…..”AM I GOOD ENOUGH?  AM I SMART ENOUGH? AM I PRETTY/HANDSOME ENOUGH? AM I ATHLETIC ENOUGH? AM I SUCCESSFUL ENOUGH?

    Thank God I have learned to listen with my heart, because my hearing is worse than my memory!  But my heart has been strengthened by all the love that I have received through the years – love I don’t deserve – graceful love for which I am so grateful.  We need to allow ourselves to be loved, not trying to earn it or compete for it but just to accept it from God. 

    It carries with it the gift of Peace!  And with that peace, the ability to Love others.  The church is a counter culture of regard for others!

    It is what sets us apart in a world filled with competition.  Jesus promised the advocate….. “parakletos”….it literally means, “the one who calls from beside”, or “the one called to the side of.”  One who speaks at our side either pleading our case, or one giving encouragement or comfort or instruction or counsel or other kinds of help. 

    I like to see it as the Spirit that brings all things that Jesus said to memory; especially when I most need to remember!

    If you have ever performed on stage in a play you know that there are folk who stand in the wings with the script and if you forget your lines, will whisper a few words to get you started again….[prompters]…Politicians have aids who know the names of most of the people that they are going to meet and whisper their names and information on them in their ears so that they can appear to KNOW more than they do. 

    Jesus was leaving and wanted his disciples to not only accept his leaving, but tied their love for him on their ability to be rejoice that he was leaving.  Why? Because he was going to the Father.  They were to express the very love they had received.  A love that came from the Father and returned to the Father when it was passed on to others.

    What Jesus wanted was for the disciples to obtain and express His faith; the faith OF Jesus. So we, the church, in accepting Christ’s explanation could live the gospel and preach it with our lives.  We could, though the faith of Jesus bring in a New Jerusalem, the City of God being the church (Augustine). Read Rev. 21!