“Salvation Is Not Limited to a Single Demographic”

One of the things I like best about teaching in the local church is the wisdom and insight that comes from the gathered community.

Today’s discussion centered around two texts:

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…”

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 – “…I have become all things to all people…”

The focus was the relationship between church and world/culture.  On one hand Paul posits pretty clear distinction from the world, warning the Romans to not conform.  On the other hand, Paul demonstrates that being as a Jew or being as a Gentile, being as one who is weak or one who is strong — it is all good as long as one is “conforming” for the purpose of the gospel.  Of course we had fun poking fun at Paul as the ultimate “flip flopper” who would never make it in today’s political realm.  “All things to all people…”  Can you imagine?!?

But if Paul’s purpose in being all things to all people is to lead them to conversion to Christian faith, do we make the leap that Paul “poses” as something he is not in order to draw someone into becoming something they are not?  Is it inauthentic?  And isn’t it “conforming,” albeit for a grand purpose?

We then talked about the difficult reality that not all people of Christian faith look like “us” (whatever that is).  Not all Christians are middle/upper-middle class, highly educated, suburban, etc.  And while there is some racial diversity in the group, we are overwhelmingly white.  Do we assume that Christians will be like “us?”  Of course that’s not the case, but often our “default” setting for what a Christian looks like is, well, something oddly like ourselves.

So we recalled that there are lots of different people who claim the “one” thing — Jesus is Lord.  That’s it.  That’s enough.

Really?  What about gay people who affirm “Jesus is Lord?”  What about fundamentalists?  Evangelicals?  Liberals?  Conservatives?  We affirm that women can lead us, but certainly not all Christians would agree.

Then he said it.  One of the most wonderful insights of the morning was Chad’s assertion that “salvation is not limited to a single demographic.”

That is a statement about not only a recognition of the reality of the Church, it is a fantastic affirmation of the sovereignty of God.  God’s gift of grace, gift of salvation is given to any and all that God chooses, not limited by our conceptions of who ought to be “in” and who ought to be “out.”  The limits of God’s grace that we assume or might desire are not God’s limits.  Thanks be to God!

I love the gift of theological reflection as a practice of the church.  Well done, Chad and the class this morning!

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~ by Jeff P-D on September 14, 2008.

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