What is salvation?
In my first post in this series I proposed the below chart as a way of answering that important question. In this post I will comment on the fourth sector (4).
|Personal||Forgiveness of Sins and Relationship with God (1)||Moral (Inner and Outer) Transformation (2)||Resurrection of the Body (3)|
|Communal||One Body of Christ: One New Society (4)||Reconciliation and Social Transformation (5)||The Fullness of the Kingdom of God (6)|
|Cosmic||Resurrection and Exaltation of Jesus (7)||Redemptive Emergence of New Creation (8)||New Heaven and New Earth (9)|
Sector 4 identifies salvation as the past inauguration of a new society of humans reconciled to God, each other and the cosmos. This alternative society is dedicated to following Jesus into the world for the sake of the world in continuity with the mission of God in creation and Israel. This society is the renewal of God’s missional intent as God works through humanity for the transformation of humanity and the cosmos.
As a past moment, it is rooted in God’s eternal election, the divine creative intent, the gracious call of Israel and the mighty act of God in Jesus. God chose a people through election. God created a community–both in the beginning and in Israel. In Jesus God renewed and rebuilt a community upon whom God poured out the Spirit for the communal reconciliation of world.
The body of Christ, that is, the church, established by and rooted in the mutual love of the Father, Son and Spirit, is a new communal reality where all the fallen boundaries of the world are overcome. In the body of Christ humanity is one as it transcends the socio-economic, ethnic and gender barriers present in this evil age. Those distinctions neither determine nor bound the body of Christ.
We are the body of Christ in which the Spirit of God lives. The life of the Spirit is an eschatological life, an empowering presence that constitutes and maintains the unity of the body. Pentecost (Acts 2), within the Luke-Acts narrative, is the overlapping (to use N. T. Wright’s language) 0f heaven and earth and is thus the constituting moment where a new community is animated and empowered to become the body of Christ on earth just as it is heaven.
The body of Christ already exists as a reality in the heavenlies in a way that is unencumbered by the brokenness of the present world. It is a heavenly reality in which all who have been reconciled to God participate. In the heavenlies we are one–reconciled to God, each other and the cosmos–even though on earth we live in broken and flawed relationships.
The church, therefore, is already one. There is one body, but it is cracked, scarred and divided in its present earthly existence. The mission of the church is, in part, to manifest this unity on earth just as it is heaven–and that is the story of sector 5.
Consequently, we pray that the will of God may be done on earth just as it is in heaven. We pray that the body of Christ as it is know in heaven will also be known upon the earth. We pray for the unity of heaven and earth where the body of Christ might be fully experienced as one and we will know ourselves as God knows us, that is, we will experience the oneness of humanity in Christ as the body of Christ.