God’s desire for the world is not that a few succeed, while the many suffer. God’s desire is for us all to thrive as one body, as one people, as one creation who live and love in a peaceable union. This was not the world before COVID-19, and it is not the world today. So yes, we have work to do, essential work to do, and it does not take our gathering in this building to do that work.
In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul had a specific focus in his teaching, and it wasn’t covenantal, faithful, sacred, and permanent relationships between two people of any gender … it was acts that abused, broke covenant, and forced unfaithful, non-sacred, adulterous sexual acts on others. To claim the Biblical truth, we must look to the historic text, and claim a more faithful, long-standing, and traditional understanding of Paul’s teaching.
“We’ve always done it that way” is one of the least faithful responses to the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Spirit gifts us for far greater freedom than being slaves to our past. There is a more faithful way.
Paul makes it clear that if we’re living according to God’s desire, our first focus – our primary desire – will be the cares, interests, and concerns of others. How does our stewardship – our giving of time, talent, and treasure – support this call?
Paul helped structure the early church to live into God’s desire for the Church. Only, hierarchy and power perverted that design. Building up bigger buildings for ourselves, the church in America looks very little like what Paul envisioned. To reclaim that vision is challenging, but it’s necessary work to become who God has created us to be.
The gifting of the Spirit at Pentecost gives us the rawest and truest glimpse of God’s desire for the church: to be the living witness and testimony to the goodness of God in the world. Everything else the church does should be to better serve this purpose.
It’s hard to image a world with no war, no competition, no division, and no sorrow. For us, it might even be unimaginable. But, this is exactly the body God has created in Christ. This is exactly the body empowered by God with the Spirit. This is the beauty of humanity formed by God in creation.
In times of hardship, despair, and trials on the journey of faithfulness, we may wonder, God, what do you want from us?! We are not the first to ask such a question, nor are we the first to receive such an answer: act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord.
As Christ ascended, he promised to send *another* advocate, so that the work of God, the work done by Christ, the Word exemplified in Christ, the grace extended through Christ, the mercy offered out of Christ, the love witnessed because of Christ – that all these works may not cease to be, but that we, empowered by the Spirit, might continue these works, and to do even greater works still to come.
The power of God is not offered for our tribe, our kingdom, or our gain. Christ’s ascension is just another necessary action of God in critique of the self-motivation of disciples. Christ once more calls us to be prepared for the Spirit to lead us in dispersing power as we share God’s love with all persons, even to the ends of the earth.