What is Christian community? What practical implications are there to being one body?
The people of Israel more often give us what-not-to-do examples rather than this-is-what-you-should-do examples. One of these examples come from Exodus 32. We are all familiar, maybe too familiar, with the story about the people of Israel making a golden calf. But we may not be too familiar with 12:35-36.
How often do we hear the word but used in our lives? Sometimes these buts bear good news, but many times the word but will introduce bad news. The ABC show The Bachelor is a good example of this as each week the bachelor says to a girl, “I really like you, but I think these are feelings of friendship.” Unlike the conjunction and, which strings together at least two similar ideas in a sentence, and the conjunction or, which gives you the option between two ideas, the conjunction but puts two opposing ideas in a sentence. This little word is the hinge point at which a sentence changes directions, and usually whatever follows the but will trump what preceded it.
I’m sure most of you know the story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. Jacob loved Rachel so he promised her father Laban to work 7 years in exchange for Rachel to become his wife. At the end of those 7 years Laban tricked Jacob and gave him Rachel’s sister, Leah. (How Laban pulled that one over Jacob’s eyes is amazing to me!) Shortly after Jacob married Leah, he was given Rachel in marriage but he still had to work another 7 years! So at the end of 14 years Jacob ended up with two wives, one he loved and one he could care less about. I don’t know about you but I have always taken away from this story two things: Laban was a bad man to pull such a trick and Rachel was to be pitied. Poor, poor Rachel. Not only did her sister get to marry Jacob first, but she also was barren (which was a terrible thing in the ancient near eastern culture).
I grew up in the church singing the song, “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so…” It was an easy song to sing and to remember, and it embedded in my little mind and heart that Jesus loves me. Here recently I have begun to ponder on the love of Christ that preceded the foundation of the world. I believe, as John 1:1-4 and Hebrews 1:2 record, that Jesus existed with the Father and the Spirit before anything was made. God, the Trinity, being infinite and all-knowing knew that when He created this world what would happen. He knew that Adam and Eve would sin. He knew that sin would enter into his newly created world and separate mankind from himself. God knew that a sacrificial system would have to be made to bridge the separation. And what baffles me is that the Son knew that creating the world would eventually mean him taking on human flesh (though not losing his deity) and would mean his death. The Son, God, chose to give himself up for us before the foundation of the world, and then “chose us in him before the foundation of the world.” (Eph. 1:4) (How COOL is that??? So baffles my finite mind!)