On the Kingdom of God and Atonement - Lucy Peppiatt
Lucy Peppiatt Crawley
We all have a story about what the cross means for us personally and that’s a good thing. It will be our story. It will be how we know and came to know God. But it will only be one little part of a big picture of everything that God has achieved through the death and resurrection of Christ. So when we tell our story, we need to remember that there are always other aspects of the story that we might want to include. We should ask ourselves the following questions. Does our story include something of the coming of God’s kingdom and the part that we might have to play in that? Does our story have a role for the Spirit? Does our story include the possibility that the atonement has a cosmic affect and can therefore potentially effect every single aspect of human life from the most basic of material needs to the deepest of spiritual and emotional needs? Does our story of atonement include the history of Israel and the covenant? Does it include not just my reconciliation with God but my reconciliation with others and the possibility that there can be a reconciliation of enemies, even at national levels? When Paul writes about the power of the cross in Ephesians 2, he doesn’t apply the story just to individuals, but he is driven by the fact that this cross of Jesus has brought two ethnic races together; two races that thought they should never come together, let alone eat together and worship together. It is the cross that has destroyed the barrier of hostility that had kept them apart. Yes, the atonement story is about ‘me’ knowing forgiveness, and it always starts there, but it is also something so much bigger than that too. Paul is convinced that two peoples who are at war with each other and cannot mix, can be brought together. Imagine the cross of Christ that brings together members of ISIS and Christians. Imagine the reality that one day they may worship together. That is the vision that Paul has. That is the significance of the cross. It unites those of different race, religion, gender…..that’s what the atonement has done for us. Think of the gender wars that go on. Think of the pain that men cause women and women cause men. The cross changes all of that. It applies to slave and free – it brings together the powerful and the powerless on an equal footing. In Christ we are only and finally brothers and sisters. It is hugely radical. Let’s not get distracted by arguing over which story is best, and whether my story is more faithful than yours, and just remember to tell a bigger and better story.