more about this sight

"you're packing a suitcase for a place that you've never been...a place that has to be believed to be seen"...'Walk On' by U2

WATERSHED: A voice in the wilderness. DARYL UNDERWOOD.

 

The concept of Centerpoint Christianity briefly stated is:

Christianity from the centerpoint outward.

Christianity from the climax forward.

This blog constitutes concepts for a new view of Christianity that begins with what is foundational and moves forward from that point. It is based on the assumption that we are being pulled towards something unseen and pushed from a place that once was.

What Centerpoint Christianity attempts to do is bypass some of the constraints imposed by metanarratives by using the life of Christ and particularly the climactic actions of Christ as beginning points.

It supports the conviction that God is essentially timeless. From this beginning point we endeavor to move outward from the definitive moment of the parousia (visitation) of Christ and forward to the future which functions as a type of magnet to "what can be--and is coming".

When we begin at the life of Christ and move outward as from the centerpoint of a web, rather than in a linear timeline of history, another wide picture emerges.


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« Coming soon...my story | Main | "Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh"...I Am…I Said: The unveiling of God in Scripture »
Thursday
Mar062008

Bird's eye view: How God is set free: an excerpt from "Watershed"

by Daryl Underwood

Gods view

“One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do”
—Three Dog Night

I think we “get it” from our perspective but I'm not sure we understand the event from the perspective of God. I am speaking about the cross. It was a terrible weight to bear. The weight of the world under a curse. The weight of a promise spoken; a vow made. It must have been a terrible burden for Yahweh, for all those years to realize that he has enacted a covenant that He could not keep through his people Israel. The failed enterprise of the people that were not the salt of the earth, the light of the world, Israel has God had intended them to be would prove to be fatal.

To someone.

I wonder if those years of silence, the four hundred thirty years separating the writings of the Old Testament, Tanahk (Jewish Bible translation) and the New Testament are similar to the kind of thing that we might do to put off something that's very difficult for us to face. Just one more day and surely the tide might shift. I wonder if the Father in heaven held on to his Son so tightly and each morning rose to the new possibility of giving him away until it became very clear that he had to send him forth. What a bitter release. How difficult it is to send a child to a place where you know he will die. Parents of war are familiar. You know how you might feel if it were your child.

Appeased--hardly.

And when the time had fully come, He sent forth his Son, fully aware that he may return in pine box compliments of a fallen world and a stubborn people. No, I don't think appeasement was something the Father was seeking when He sent forth his "one and only son".

That isn't the real reason God dies.

And the Son comes to Israel to plead the case. When Israel would not respond as a people, He became Israel, took on their intended vocation, as a man, the last man standing. And in a fascinating twist of irony the words spoken of the high priest Caiphus the year of the crucifixion ring true,

“It is better that one man should die than an entire nation”.

Oddly enough, God probably inspired the words of Caiphus, the prosecuting attorney and then acquiesced to the prophecy that was given. He submits to it. Now He, as Israel, the last man standing, the final gunslinger, the final breath of the old covenant, the last remnant of God, to his own He came. And his own would not have Him. They said to themselves, “This is the heir” and they seized him and they put him to death. They became the center--at least in their mind. It was the only way to go. And now at last, the parable of the wicked tenants had come to pass. It was strangely accurate, that they should come and take Jesus, the one and only son, and put him away in the same way that Jesus had said they would when he spoke the parable just a few days earlier.

Still a promise spoken was a promise worth keeping. More so for God.

And so Jesus becomes Israel, as God had intended them, to be. He becomes to Israel, what we are to be, for the sake of the world. It must have been a strange release for God to finally free himself of the captive chains of that promise when Jesus breathed his last breath. This is one of the the things that's happening on the cross. This is the time when God is released from the old covenant of the Tanahk because the covenant is fulfilled, met, enacted when God dies.. At this very moment where Jesus breathes his last breath, we must understand, realize that God now has been set free from an old promise that wasn't kept through, and with, Israel. That as Abraham sleeps between the carcass cut in two, God himself makes the visitation to make good on the promise of a covenant that they have with one another. And now while the rest of Israel sleeps, God acts. To me, this is the significance of the sleeping disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. They, too, though they are not the vicious Pharisees and Sadducees, have fallen asleep.

There is no one on the watchtower anymore. Jesus is truly alone.

The sheep have been scattered and the Shepherd will now be sacrificed. With this release of responsibility He (God) is now put in the position to enact a new covenant. And this is what Jesus is doing at the Last Supper. Intentionally.

I recently listened to the song that was the theme song for the movie which tells the inspiring tale of William Wilburforce entitled Amazing Grace. Chris Tomlin, who performs the song has written these words, importing them into the Newton lyrics:: “My chains are gone; I’ve been set free; My God, my God has ransomed me”.

At the time I was listening to the song I was also looking at the “Tribute to Kings” an amazing artistic rendition of the “Stations of the Cross” that was created by Kevin Rolly, an artist from Southern California. When I came upon the picture, station 11, that is seen below, I saw something new. Jesus, lying with head cocked, eyes hollow, mouth open, the eyes that once shined with life, now staring is somehow... strangely peaceful. Emptied and free at last. Notice the cross bearing over his shoulder, heavy, crushing, weighty, and it struck me that the words of the song really fit what Jesus was going through right there, right then going through right there, right then.

11_book_of_threes.jpg

God was being set free. At last.

We always see the cross is the time when we were “set free from our sin”. We always see it as something that is set against a background of our perspective. We are so conditioned by that mindset that it's difficult for us to see it any other way.

It is always about me. Well, la-tee-da.

For the first time that I could remember, I saw the cross as something that really sets God free; from a weight, the weight of a promise made, a vow spoken. As Paul would later declare to the people of Galatia: "the point at which the will is broke open to be read, that is the moment when the promise is enacted, right then, right there, is when it takes effect...when the One who makes the promises dies, the custodian is no longer needed, the heirs receive the inheritance. (author's paraphrase). Absalom, Oh Absalom, my son, my son, son. We could easily substitute Israel, Oh Israel, my son, my son, my son. You didn't have to undermine me to walk in the kingdom, you didn't have to steal a blessing, you didn't have to contend, to strive, and in the end, you didn't have to kill me. The blessing of the inheritance, it was always right there for you, why wouldn't you come out of the field and celebrate with us, I came to entreat you...but you would not.

Finally, after years of turmoil the old covenant and the heavy weight of law had been fulfilled and the burden of that cross could now be lifted.

That is what Jesus means by “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it”. He is doing the “work of the Father” and He and the Father are of One mind in this task. Not appeasement...but a cooperative effort between Father, Son, and as we soon see, the Spirit. When Jesus carries the cross to the edge of the city, actually outside the city of Jerusalem in exile from his own, and is planted as a criminal between two thieves, we see it as the substitutionary atonement for us. This is truly self-centered and so, frankly, American individualistic. These types of attitudes are actually fueled inadvertently, by the modern church, through models such as the seeker-sensitive and the prosperity model. We hardly think twice.

We don't even consider what it was for God. I mean, isn't church about my needs?

What I am suggesting is that it's time we look at it from his perspective and realize that it was the fulfillment of the law and the fulfillment of the weight of the covenant. It was a promise that God was now making good. And now he could be released from that obligation to do something new. And this is what he does, he creates a new people. Pulitzer prize winning author Jack Miles puts it this way, "His purpose is not so much to save humanity from destruction as to rescue his reputation.”

Now it follows, having remade himself, vindicated His promise, being raised to a new beginning, He extends again the offer of the inheritance to the people of the earth. And humanity is saved by "coming out" and responding to that invitation. The question that lingered in the telling of the Prodigal Son remains--will the elder son get over himself and come into the house and join this celebration. The jury is still out for much of the world. We are the ones deliberating...God has laid his hand on the table.

He enacts a new covenant (New Testament in my blood) with Jesus at the Last Supper. When the old covenant's fulfilled then all bets are off, all things become new, even you (who are in Christ) are new creations in a new age, Simply understood the new has come invading this world with its sacrificial love. In reality, this is what the Bible is; a story divided into two covenants, the old covenant and the new covenant. Three days in Jerusalem on the week-end of Passover forever stands in the middle. The centerpoint.

When Jesus cries, “It is finished” on the cross He is referring to the end of the long drawn out relationship of two parties to an agreement that could not be reconciled without the shedding of blood. Sometimes when one is boxed in a corner there is no other way. The question is whose blood. The answer is the enactor of the agreement. In one of the most ironic twists of all time Israel will die when they take the gun from the hand of Jesus and turn it on Him. Israel gets what they want but it is not what they really need. It is their demise. This is the end of Israel, the nation, as the people of God.

Again, when Jesus dies Israel dies, the Old Covenant finishes, Satan as we shall see is killed. All of this happens on the cross, the climax of one story and the soon to be the beginning of another, better story.

Now, obviously, God is not done with Israel in a literal fashion just as God was never really done with the entire world in a literal fashion. He may have considered leaving both--but could not do it. Yet this moment has to be seen as the climactic moment in the history of the Hebrew people. They no longer have the privilege that others don't enjoy. The table becomes very wide, so wide as to include now the whole world. This is the gospel according to Jesus, Paul, and the church. At the same time, they're not cursed over and above any other peoples of the earth. It is in the past.

It is also, I contend, as the centerpoint of humanity the most trustworthy place to begin to understand Christianity.

Now, in His resurrection the true Israel is to be brought out in a new day, in a new and living way, through the breath of God. Just like a bride readied to make her entrance. Indeed you cannot put this new wine in the old wineskins, it will tear and the wine would pour out. Jesus was tore, the wine of His blood spilled, and new wineskins were brought in. The new wineskins, of course, are the new people of the Kingdom as God had envisioned them to be.

As King Arthur dreamed of pure Camelot, God dreams of a kingdom. It is a kingdom, a realm, that is coming to pass and is being enacted “in Christ”. The gospel is the invitation to join in this dream and let all other dreams or agendas be found in this dream. To now submit ourselves to that--just as God mysteriously submitted Himself to us.

All of life is theology, the study of how to be "godlike" as we walk the earth. All are invited to the party. Isn't this really the gospel according to Paul, and according to Jesus, and according to Scripture? Do we really find out much about the substitutionary atonement in scripture, or do we find a lot about the covenant, and the keeping of promises, and the keeping of vows, even when it is most difficult. I am lobbying for the second because I believe it is a better rendering of what the message of God to us really is.

Atonement: Two sides of the same coin

Ultimately, God is the One responsible for the failure of Israel and the covenant. He alone spoke it into being and holds court over its success or failure.

In one final act of sacrifice a death occurs. It has several simultaneous effects. One, the death of Israel and thus the fulfillment of the covenant we have discussed already. God substitutes, actually takes the place of Israel on the cross.

The other effect is somewhat less understood and has to do with atonement for that which He has contributed, played a part in. The atonement is substitutionary, yes, but it is also atonement for what went wrong, God’s atonement for His “sin”.

In a continuation of the theme of baptism for repentance, God now completes the circle and is “sanctified” in His death. He rescues the covenant, His reputation, and finally the created world. When He dies Satan is judged, when He descends Satan descends.

Of course the elephant in the room, the hanging question, revolves around who is Satan? And this is dealt with in another article. The only answer lies in God. The essential personality of God which is crucified is the enemy, father of lies, adversary, and usurper of God somehow mysteriously “in” God, or at the least from God, since all things emanated in God or from God. It is the Tiamot of God, the potential destroyer, genocidal maniacal deceiver, that is finally destroyed on the cross…never to rise again. The underbelly is overcome and He/She will make “war no more” on the creation of God. This is difficult to wrap our minds around, hard to negotiate. Nonetheless we must consider the possibility. We, as God, like God, imaging God, must deal with “the underbelly” or we have no place in the garden.Our part is the other side of the coin of atonement, the personal side which i will address in the next entry. But for now...

It is time to see things from the perspective of God.

I am not the center of the world. So click you heels and repeat after me...I am not the center of the world.

And yet, don't you feel it...there really is no place like home. With a garden. And this huge tree full of life. Dorothy's right, and I long for that place. I am not the center of the world, but I, strangely enough, am part of the plan.

And so are you. you see ther are two sides to this coin.

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