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Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 11, 2017
This is truly comforting: "In life and in
death we belong to the Lord."

Posted by Comments:
Rick in Canada, eh?
September 13, 2017
Hi all.

I agree, Steve; that is a great promise.

I do think, however, that we need to remember the
context in which this promise is recorded,
especially for preaching purposes.

Paul is addressing a situation in which people are
excluding other people, drawing lines around who's
in and who's out, who's faithful and who's not,
who is alive (in a good relationship with God) and
who's dead (whose relationship is false, or fake,
or lacking).

So, it seems to me that this great promise is
addressed to both the excluded and the excluders.

Message to the excluded - You are are the Lord's,
no matter what anyone says about you. The
excluders do not determine your relationship with
God. Keep trusting the promise. That's all you are
accountable for.

Message to the excluders - They are the Lord's, no
matter what you say about them. You are in no
position to make any kind of judgement about
another's relationship with God. It's about God's
promise, not the kind or quality of the response
to it. And remember, you are just as accountable
to God as they are.

Without this context, the promise floats outside
of reality, and therefore touches nothing, and is
quite frankly irrelevant. In this context of
broken human relationships (which is what Paul's
wring about), the promise is everything.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 15, 2017
Rick, the context of Paul's letter is important,
as you say.

The idea of belonging to God is something quite
foreign in the land I live in. We are influenced
by John Locke's Fundamental Constitution, which
says we are totally autonomous individuals. He did
this in reaction to the Church of England, which
would not allow for religious questionings or
freedom to form other churches.

But We've taken Locke's idea to a new level, and
it runs counter to this letter Paul writes.

No one is self-contained.

Feasting makes a point that Paul is
"Celebrating our Unity in Christ (by
welcoming others), not (celebrating) our

Rick in Canada wrote, "It's about God's
promise, not the kind or quality of the response
to it." God's promise (grace) is the tide
that lifts all boats!

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 16, 2017
Friends, again.

The "L" in TULIP (John Calvin)
stands for limited atonement. This contradicts
verse 11: "Every knee shall bow to me, and
every tongue shall give praise to God."

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 16, 2017

Paul, who says we belong to God in both life
and dead, also (in Ro. 8:38) says, "For I am
sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor
principalities, nor things present, nor things to
come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor
anything else in all creation, will be able to
separate us fr4om the love of God in Christ Jesus
our Lord."

He says this from his own extreme experiences,
starting as Saul on the Domascus Road.

Having experiences of near death is not in
itself a guarantee that a statement of faith
arises like this one. Paul is one who thinks
about past experiences, not shutting them out of
his mind as terrible memories, but seeing them
more clearly through the eyes of faith, and
recording them for all the world to see.
Tribulations of Paul are well documented so that
others --for all time--could see them and
understand faith better.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 16, 2017

If there was no problem in relationships when
this gospel was written, this issue would never
have been included. It had to have been a huge
problem for it to rate this much exposure.

As soon as relationships appear in the lectionary,
and I'm forced to preach this, things seem to
happen in a very personal way. It hurts deep down
when someone sins against you. I'm trying to
figure out how I can forgive this person. Right
now, I think it's going to take divine

The last time something like this happened, the
process of forgiveness was about as messy and loud
and upsetting as it could be. But, by the time we
parted late that night, forgiveness had indeed
begun. To the surprise of everyone connected, the
two of us were working together soon afterwards.
The friendship, instead of being destroyed, was
stronger than ever. This was indeed a miracle.

But the hard feelings inside me towards this
person had to find expression for them to go away.
And that's precisely what happened. I agree, there
is a huge risk in doing this. It could have just
as easily gone the other way.

The thing is, if reconciliation doesn't happen
in one area, it starts to permeate other areas; it
may pop up in the most inconvenient time. The deep
down hard feelings that remain hidden may easily
get projected on some unsuspecting person later
on. And so, I think it's worth the risk.

The relational problems that triggered this gospel
scold were most probably resolved --I think. Since
it was made public in such a dramatic way, the
chance for reconciliation increased dramatically.
This is why we should preach this.

Posted by Comments:
steve souther
September 16, 2017
Sorry, I thought I was responding to the gospel.
But these two texts are definitely connected.

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Frank Schaefer for, 2005

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