Sunday, December 06, 2020

Newbigin: the church in His mercy

Sunday, December 6, 2020
    Advent II
    Feast of Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, c.326
    [Jesus, concluding the parable of the laborers in the vineyard:] “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
    “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
    —Matthew 20:13-16 (NIV)
    The Church exists, and does not depend for its existence upon our definition of it: it exists wherever God in His sovereign freedom calls it into being by calling his own into the fellowship of His Son.
    And the Church exists solely by His mercy. God shuts up and will shut up every way except the way of faith which simply accepts His mercy as mercy. To that end, He is free to break off unbelieving branches, to graft in wild slips, and to call “No people” His people. And if, at the end, those who have preserved through all the centuries the visible “marks” of the Church find themselves at the same board with some strange and uncouth late-comers on the ecclesiastical scene, may we not fancy that they will hear Him say—would it not be so like him to say—“It is my will to give unto these last even as unto thee?” Final judgment belongs to God, and we have to beware of judging before the time. I think that if we refuse fellowship in Christ to any body of men and women who accept Jesus as Lord and show the fruits of His Spirit in their corporate life, we do so at our peril. It behooves us, therefore, to receive one another as Christ has received us.
    ... Lesslie Newbigin (1909-1998), The Household of God, London, SCM Press, 1953, New York: Friendship Press, 1954, p. 150 (see the book)
    See also Matt. 20:13-16; Hos. 1:10; Rom. 9:25-26; 11:15-21; 15:7; 1 Pet. 2:10
Quiet time reflection:
    Teach me, Lord, to receive your people as You receive them.
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