Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Kleinig, 2008. Chapter 1, “The Mystery of Christ”

Chapter 1, “The Mystery of Christ” pp. 27-86

Begging in antiquity was always despised. Yet Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount by affirming those who are spiritually destitute (p. 28). “This countercultural beatitude sums up the whole of Christian spirituality. It contradicts popular religion and common piety. Popular piety presupposes our unrealized spiritual potential” (p. 29). Jesus says we do not have any spiritual potential. It is only in Jesus that we take on an exalted status and may approach God the Father. Kleinig then views our growth in Christ as a moving away from trust in ourselves and toward trust in Jesus (p. 33). This, Kleinig says, is contrary to the piety seen often in Christians, which frequently resembles that of the Pharisees. “Their problem was that they put their own brand on their acts of piety; they claimed their achievements for themselves rather than for God” (p. 37). On the contrary, Scripture calls us to trust Christ’s work for us. This is no one-size-fits-all faith, but just as we are different so Jesus engages us differently (p. 44). As Jesus engages us through Word and Spirit we learn to breathe, so to speak, receiving and being nourished by what he gives us (p. 46). Kleinig ties this work to our conscience, which is fed by God’s Word. “Our conscience functions properly only when it is governed by faith in God’s Word and when it attends both to the voice of the Lw and the voice of the Gospel” (p. 53). We need both the check of the Law and the freedom of the Gospel.

Beginning on p. 56 Kleinig begins describing the Christian life in terms of a mystery. It is not a secret, but something revealed. Yet it remains a mystery because it is rather hidden no matter how much we know. Jesus, in fact, is that revealed mystery, the one in whom we hope. It is the mystery of his life and death which brings us life. Jesus, in fact, is the one who presents us beggars to the Father. In response to that, Christians act as God’s messengers of grace to the world (pp. 63ff). Yet even in that act, Kleinig sees spirituality as receptive, comparing it with the Sabbath rest (p. 70). To conclude the chapter, Kleinig turns to daily prayer on p. 71, drawing from Old Testament roots of worship which contiue into the New Testament context. In daily devotion and prayer we continue to live in Christ, being nourished by his grace.

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