Christ Calls All To Glory

Christ Calls All To Glory December 17, 2023

Brunswick Monogrammist : Great Banquet / picryl

Christ came into the world to make it, and everyone in it, better. He does not do so through force, but through love. Just as God created an other, allowing the other to have freedom and self-determination, so in the recreation established by Christ, God continues to give us room to make choices for ourselves. Such freedom must not be misconstrued as being without boundaries or limitations, but within the domain which has been established for creation. We have been given a stage on which to act and establish and present ourselves to others and to God in the drama of history.

If we will to remain self-centered, making all things about ourselves, we cannot fully receive all the gifts which Jesus wants us to have. This does not mean we will not receive any of them. Some of them come to us by reason of our creation. Others come by reason of the grace Jesus brought to the world as a result of the incarnation itself. It is through them we not only have the ability to make choices for ourselves, but also to transcend ourselves, to make ourselves better. To do that, we overcome what we have come to make of ourselves in relation to our fallen mode of existence, which is, of course, what is meant when it is said we are to die to the self. We are not to seek annihilation but transcendence. That is to be done in and through love, for it is God’s love which brought us into being, and it is God’s love revealed to us in the incarnation which brings about our recreation. We must embrace it for ourselves; if we do so, we will then be able to engage the world in a new, “heavenly” mode of being.

The earth and what is in it is good. Sadly, that goodness has become hidden as we have defaced it through our sin. Our sin has become as a bad habit or addiction, making us act and react in relation to the form of the world we have established by it, that is, in relation to the defaced form of being the world has been given. Only by embracing the way heaven, the way of love, can we overcome our fallen mode of being and come to see the world and all that is in it for the good which it had been created. That will then allow us to begin to apprehend the truths which have otherwise been lost to us due to the way sin has defiled our ability to apprehend reality.  Thus, as Paul said, we must cast off our old ways of engaging the world:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator (Col. 3:4-10 RSV).

We are renewed by grace; we are called to transcend our fallen mode of being, and all the inclinations it has given us; this is done in and through grace, for it is through grace we can become what we were meant to be before sin defiled us. We are meant to show the world the image and likeness of God which we have been given, and to do so, we must act more and more like God, following love in all that we do.  God’s so-called wrath, God’s purifying fire of love, is coming, and all that is unlove will be consumed by it; the more we are attached to those things which are bound by unlove, that is sin, the more we will have to go through that purifying flame. The more we detach ourselves from our fallen mode of being and let the image of God within us shine, the more we embrace love and the grace which is found with it, the less we will need to be purified, and so the less painful our experience will be when we come face to face with  God’s burning love.

We must embrace charity with truth, and live in accordance to the way of heaven, no longer bound by mere earthly passions. We must not lie to each other. We must not let our inordinate desires get the best of us, as they lead us away from the way of heaven, that is, the way of love and the unity of all things which God’s love desires to establish for creation.

Christians are called to serve Christ by sharing his transformative love to the world. They are to work for the kingdom of God and so seek to find a way to unite all things together in and through love. Such unity must be established in and with freedom, and not be coerced, for love always makes way for freedom, which is why it is not just any form of unity which  is to be sought, but the proper kind, the kind which recognizes and elevates the good in everyone.

“Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col. 3:11 RSV). Everyone is invited to join in the kingdom of God, to realize their unity in such a way as not to allow their relative distinctions get in the way. Christ has come to gather everyone together, overcoming the way sin has divided all things and set all things against each other. Christ welcomes all. Sadly, many of those who would like to call themselves his followers are the ones who ignore his summons to loving unity, while those who otherwise have found themselves in dire straits in the world, and have become marginalized, doing what they need to survive in such a situation, are those who, upon hearing Christ’s welcome and love, come and receive what he has to offer and live out the love which he wants them to live out. Christ hinted at this in his parables, such as when he talked about a great banquet which many of those who were initially invited did not go:

But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet, and invited many;  and at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for all is now ready.’  But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, `I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, `I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them; I pray you, have me excused.’ And another said, `I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’

So the servant came and reported this to his master. Then the householder in anger said to his servant, `Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and maimed and blind and lame.’  And the servant said, `Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, `Go out to the highways and hedges, and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’ (Lk. 14:16-24 RSV).

Christ warns us that if we ignore his summons, making excuses as to why we do so, we risk being cut off from the kingdom of God. This is not because Christ will cut us off from it, but because, so long as we excuse ourselves and go away from what he would have us be like, we embrace sin and its divisive nature, and so cut ourselves off from the kingdom of God. On the other hand, those who, despite their way of life, despite the sins they did before being called, come and approach God with thanksgiving and love, will receive their share of the glory, making, indeed, the first, last, and the last, first.

 

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