sábado, 16 de marzo de 2013

What does Oz the Great and Powerful has to do with the righteousness from God?

Last week I saw "Oz the Great and Powerful with my son." Oscar, before really becoming Oz, was a magician. He was very aware that he was a fake, a con man, nothing more than a performer. At some point in the movie Glinda, the good witch, Oz, and their companions are traveling in bubbles approaching the city that is protected by some sort of force field. Oz becomes anxious about crossing this protective shield and Glinda explains that all those of good heart will cross through without a problem. Oz yelled, “I’m going to die!” For his surprise, he crossed, with difficulty, but his bubble finally made it through. Glinda was smiling, probably because she knew as well as him that his heart was not as good as he was pretending. Eventually he will confess this to Glinda and she tells him that she already knew. However, she believed in him; not for whom he was at the moment, but for who he could be. I thought of God and our justification by faith. God looks at us the same way that Glinda looked at Oz. God does not see who we are now, God sees us through Jesus, and thus, justified. In Philippians we are reminded of this righteousness that is not our own but given to us by Jesus Christ: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith.” (Philippians 3:8b-9) Glory be to God who loves us as we are and see in us our potential, not our wicked hearts. 

martes, 19 de febrero de 2013

New things are scary at the beginning

I just saw “Warm Bodies,” another movie about apocalypse with zombies walking around eating living human beings. The “corpses” could be cured with love but the “bonies” were too far off for salvation. For the “corpses” to be cured they needed to establish connections with the living. This was scary for the living because “corpses” used to eat them. It is in that transition that the main character, the first zombie to experience the healing process, says, “. . . new things are scary at the beginning.”

We believe in a God who makes all things new. A God who promises, “I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:19) We believe in a God who makes us new, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) But even when it is God’s doing, new things are scary at the beginning.

We look at the decline of the mainline protestant denominations and some diagnose it as ill, others as dying, and yet others as pregnant. Those who think the declining church is pregnant are focusing in the hope that God can and is making new things in the church. Those who think the church is dying are mourning the loss and hoping that God will save it. We all want to hope. And maybe it is love that will bring the life back to the church. Maybe the church needs to connect with the others, with those different. Maybe in humane relationships the church will find new life. I believe God is already doing this. I see it in the “emergent church” that embraces cultural diversity, flat table relationships, artistic expressions, and new ways of being. But loving those who used to hurt us is scary. Watching how God transforms us is scary because living into new things is scary; but just at the beginning.