Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Pattern of Heaven (Philippians 3:17-21)

Paul, though one of the strongest voices in Scripture against legalism, is no antinomian. He repeatedly calls for a life lived according to a pattern; for people to follow the example of Christ or those who do well to live by that standard. The differences between Paul and those he argued against are two:

First, he insisted that the answer to humanity’s sin problem was entirely dependent on God’s efforts and our trust response to him, not any merit or legal standing of our own.

Second, while some try to come up with a list of acceptable and forbidden behaviors to characterize God’s standard; Paul taught that Christian behavior is a product of a new nature, a character that is best understood as love.

So there is a pattern that we strive to follow, a law that we adhere to, but it is not simple or black and white or developed by someone else and delivered to us. It is case specific and somewhat determined by circumstance or more precisely by the people we meet and with whom we interact. It is not as simple as “do not lie” but more akin to do no harm with your words. Rather than an extreme like “do not murder” we must not hate.

As we grow in our understanding and improve in our ability to conform to our true nature, we begin to experience the pattern of heaven. The Kingdom of God that is already here but not yet in full. We get a taste of our true home, where there is no law because there is no need for one.

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