I have been reading the story of the Exodus. On its face it is a marvellous story of deliverance from enslavement to freedom. It is that and much more. As I read it today I see how the miraculous deliverance was the prelude to a more daunting task.
The people were saved from the oppressor and God’s plan did not stop there. His purposes included making a ‘peculiar’ people. People whose citizenship would no longer be in the Kingdom of Pharaoh, but in the Kingdom of God. I say that this is the more daunting task because the prior deliverance required only miracle after miracle as God intervened, in history, to bring about the salvation of the people. This next task requires the willing participation of the ‘saved’. God alone could save but true citizenship would need to be the choice of frail humanity!
God provides evidence of his faithfulness and ushers in the new ethic of the Kingdom of God. The people enjoyed the manna. They ate up the quail. They stood in awe of the Shekinah glory. They witnessed the transfiguration of Moses’ face. Still they longed for the savour of the leeks of captivity!
Later Christ (the greater Moses) brought deliverance and salvation. He taught the ethic of the Kingdom, that was to be marked by love. He showed what citizenship really looks like in the Red Letters especially what we call “The Sermon on the Mount”. He sends the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, to help us live into this Kingdom.
Perhaps our deliverance was, like the Exodus, the easier miracle! Here in the West the Church of Jesus is all too often indistinguishable from the Kingdom of this World. We resemble Pharaoh more than Christ. Even in the pursuit of perhaps laudable goals, the Church takes up carnal weapons. Any victories are likely to be empty. No where in God’s rule do the ends justify the means.
It has always been unpopular to call people away from popular values of the culture, yet this is our collective calling. This is the task for which we have the Paraclete! If we only invite people to ‘get saved’ we shortchange both them and the Gospel. We call people out of darkness and we call them into Light.
To be about this task we must live our lives under Christ’s Reign as citizens of his Kingdom. We will certainly do this imperfectly and we ought to admit our failures and go ahead in assurance of his pardon. Only in this way are we truly ‘peculiar people’. It is through this peculiarity that we become attractive to those ensnared in this present darkness. As visible citizens we point to our King.
Our King is entirely capable, and he looks only for our frail cooperation.
On June 1st Threshold House will become the permanent home of Street Hope Saint John. We are excited and daunted by the challenges ahead. Would you stand with us in prayer and if you are able help us in our growing financial responsibilities.