Journey: Moving Toward Freedom

Read: “The Uprising of Partnership”

We do not see the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God before the end of the New Testament, but we do see the trajectory that will increasingly bring in God’s reign in the ensuing centuries–a trajectory set by Christ himself and let loose in the post-resurrection  Christian community.  McLaren names it “the uprising of partnership.”  It is the movement toward freedom which occurs as those previously estranged and separated are made one in Christ.

The first union was between Jews and Gentiles, followed by a new relationship between males and females,  and culminating in a new way way of living between slaves and free persons.  All are now one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

New Testament scholars agree that Paul’s threefold description was a direct response to and contradiction of a prayer that some Jews used to thank God they were not born Gentiles, women, or slaves.  And most scholars see what Paul stated in the Galatian letter as the beginning of a radical understanding of faith and life where all hierarchies (and the arrogance and judgmentalism that so often accompany them) are replaced by a “oneing” that is rooted in love and humility and expressed in respect and community.

All this finds its source in the earliest Christian affirmation: “Jesus is Lord.”  Lord of all, not just some.  Lord of all, not just the ones we pick.  Lord of all, not just those who meet our pre-requisites.  Lord of all.

This trajectory moves the cosmos toward freedom, until the glorious day when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), a partnership where lion and lamb will lie down together, illustrating a completion where every enemy and all enmity will come to an end–a reality that can only be described as a new heaven and new earth.

Between the “already” and the “not yet” of the Kingdom, we have the privilege of advancing this movement toward freedom–by first being reconciled to God ourselves, and then engaging in ministries of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18).  We have the opportunity to be part of the uprising of partnership.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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