(In The Life Of The Church)
On Not Inheriting the Kingdom
5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness,
5:20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions,
5:21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before:"those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God." Galatians 5:19-21
The context for these bible verses is freedom and slavery. You are so completely free, Paul contends, that you have the freedom to love self sacrificially, which will mimic slavery in form. But it's freely chosen and counter cultural and all the other Paul things.
I don't know what do with these bits in Paul. I don't have problem with them or that fact that Christian faith demands something from us morally, I just think it can make our theology inconsistent.
Let me get straight to it. In the backdrop of what i'm pondering is the tension between faith works. Nothing new.
Does Paul really mean that I won't inherit the kingdom of God if some of these are found in me? Well then crap, because I struggle with a lot of the things on that list. And what is this promise of grace? And Martin Luther's claim that I have righteousness imputed? If that is the case then why does it matter what I do? Paul anticipates that question. It's at the beginning of Romans 6. "what shall we then say, shall we go on sinning? Certainly not!" or "May it never be!"
Still, the mechanics seem to break down for me. This inconsistency matches my own faith journey experience. Sometimes I feel the Spirit's rebuke. I know i'm a sinner and in need of repentance and repair. At other times, I feel the Spirit extend the grace and love of God to me.
Could a set of actions actually keep me from inheriting the kingdom? And what does that mean, "not inheriting the kingdom?" Does that mean my sin sends me to hell? Can parts me inherit the kingdom but not others? In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul talks about a person whose work gets burned up and only partly survives, barely making it through the flames. I've always thought that that's the kind of Christian i'd probably be. After 34 years of doing this, I still feel like such a mess.
Hell has come under scrutiny, not lately, but again. It's always been viewed with some scrutiny. A few years ago Rob Bell wrote a book about it. He didn't really say anything that CS Lewis hadn't said in The Great Divorce fifty years earlier, but for some reasons it made a large constituency of CS Lewis loving evangelicals really uncomfortable. I like both books. Not because I believe hell doesn't exist, but because they made me think harder about what hell is.
Undoubtedly the Bible offers us images. And even those images, given the physics of space and time come into conflict. For example, hell is described as dark and as fire. In most cases heat gives off a form of light. But those are images and taken in context don't intend to compete with incompatible notions of each other.
In high school I read this book called Letters From A Skeptic. It's a book of letters written back and forth between a pastor/theologian and his atheist father. His father has a number of standard objections. One of them was about hell. His father was talking about Hitler and said something like, "well I think, even God after 1,000 years, would get tired of hearing Hitler being tortured." That was the first time I thought about that. And then I thought about Jesus words on forgiveness and violence and how that seemed incompatible with the goal of hell as I understood it.
Eventually I found my way to the theology of the Eastern Orthodox Church. They had a way of talking about heaven/hell that made sense to me for the first time. They used the metaphor of light. Light they said, can either illumine or burn depending on how it is received. That's it! That's got to be it. God is fair and God is just. God doesn't get vindictive and angry like we do. God is not an ant bully delighting the in destruction of individuals. Why hell then? Because the light can burn if you don't to receive it.
What if that's what hell is? The presence of God for those who don't want it. Have you ever seen an addict confronted by an intervention? It looks like hell for them. What if we cultivated a life filled with the things that Paul called don'ts? My guess is that the presence of God would be suffocating. We'd be an incompatible people. We'd be unable to receive the kingdom because we'd find it repulsive.
Maybe then, this can also explain what grace does. It connects us with the lovely things in the world. It feeds us the fruit of the Spirit and grows us into Jesus people. Those who can receive the kingdom.
Meet Our Newest UBCer
Name: Ruth Anna VanDyke
Birth Height: 20.5
Birth Weight: 7lb 10oz
Enneagram Number: 2
As you may have seen, I have asked for some of you to consider joining me on a discernment team to decide what to do about our growing number of kids. After of a fews weeks, that team has been assembled. Here's a list of the people who volunteered:
Dustin Ward: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kristen Davis: email@example.com
Kristen Richardson: Kristen_Richardson@baylor.edu
Rob Engblom: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Fillmore: Paul_Fillmore@baylor.edu
Breck Gamel: email@example.com
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu
We are looking to have our first meeting this week. Here is what we plan to discuss:
1. identifying the problem 2. talking through solutions 3. identifying the actions to needed to present a realistic version of that solution to leadership team. (i.e. do we need an architect, do we need a capital campaign, do we need a sermon series on being better stewards of what we already have, etc.)
If you would like to share concerns or ideas about this, please contact any member of this team.
Editor in Chief
Friends, I would like to take a moment to thank my friend Hannah Kuhl. As have probably come to understand if you've read my writing over the last few years, I'm not a very careful writer. I make mistakes, miss words, use words incorrectly and misspell. Hannah has patiently edited newsletters for me the past few years. She has entered a season of busy and graciously asked to step down. So I need a new editor in chief. Time commitment is about ten minutes a week and can be done digitally. email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help this way.
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Work is Worship
Greeters: Juliet & Ricky
Coffee Makers: Angel Snow
Mug Cleaners: Dodsons
Money Counter: Justin Pond
- Sunday Sermon Text: Luke 9:52-62
- MD Chains Location: Taco Bell
- There will be a UBCYP Board Games Night on Friday, July 8th at 7pm. Sign up in the lobby on Sunday to get the address! Space is limited, so be sure to sign up asap if you are interested. If you aren’t going to be around on Sunday, you can sign up by emailing email@example.com.
- Next UBC Town Hall will be after church on July 3rd.
Do you have an emergency and need to talk to a pastor?
254 413 2611
If you have a concern or an idea for UBC that you’d like to share with someone that is not on staff, feel free to contact one of our leadership team members.
Chair- Kristin Dodson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joy Wineman: email@example.com
Stan Denman: Stan_Denman@baylor.edu
David Wilhite: David_Wilhite@baylor.edu
Bridget Heins: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharyl Loeung: email@example.com
Jon Davis: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC Finance Team
Do you have a question about UBC’s financial affairs? Please feel free to contact any of your finance team members.
Josh McCormick: Josh.McCormick@dwyergroup.com
Hannah Kuhl: HannahKuhl@hotmail.com
Justin Pond: email@example.com
Anna Tilson: Anna_Tilson@jrbt.com
Doug McNamee: firstname.lastname@example.org
UBC HR Team
If you have concerns about staff and would like contact our human resources team, please feel free to email any of the following members.
Maxcey Blaylock: email@example.com
Mathew Crawford: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rob Engblom: Rob_Engblom@baylor.edu
Ross Van Dyke: Ross_Vandyke@baylor.edu