Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lenten Devotional 11: Church, Cross, and Culture

Saturday, March 3, 2012
Scripture reading: Acts 5:30-42

The Acts of the Apostles is traditionally considered Luke’s written record of what happened following the events of his Gospel account. It’s the work of the early Christian Jews and gentiles; the patriarchs of the Church, Práxeis tōn Apostólōn. Though date and authorship are debated, it’s not essential to our present purposes in this devotional.

Our pericope highlights what Christians do and why we do it. It is the praxis of the Church to proclaim the name and Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Messiah (vv. 30-32). The Pharisee, Gamaliel, interrupts the rage of the Sadducees with profound wisdom (vv. 33-35). He tells the angered Sadducees (conservative, wealthy, Jewish authorities) that if the Apostle’s proclamation of Christ is not the true work of God, they will despair, give up, and/or fail (vv. 36-39). The Apostle’s teaching did not cease and persecution was a worthy cause (vv. 40-42).

Two millenniums later, the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is still the most important work of the Church (at least it should be) and it’s still making religious leaders mad. Is it better to be a modern day Pharisee or Sadducee? We still do this polarizing left-right thing, so perhaps there’s a better question. Is it better to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ or to rage against the changing culture?

The early Christian Jews and Gentiles were not the dominant voice in their culture. Present day Christians (specifically in the United States) are no longer a dominant voice in the surrounding culture. Men and women of the Lord, we must continue to preach the Gospel that is the work of the cross (death and resurrection) of Jesus Christ. We are not here to be the loudest voice in culture; we are here to proclaim the Gospel to it. If “the ways of the world” oppose the truth of God, they will fail. Transformation of culture is the work of God alone. Finally, may we look to the cross, where God is found, and how God gives grace and peace to the world.

Holy and Triune God, we look to the work of the cross and the promise you continue to keep with your people. Forgive us for fighting about our perceptions of corruption that distract us from proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. We are sinners and we forget that proclaiming the grace of the cross is radically different than our outrage toward the world around us. Fix our eyes on the cross, the way of truth that is neither left, nor right, nor Pharisee, nor Sadducee, nor rage, nor condemnation. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.  


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