By Invitation

giftI was comparing Colossians 3:12-14 to attending a wedding.  the first half verse is about our identity.

  • as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved..   v. 12a

Weddings are by invitation.  You don’t show up uninvited.  Your admission is not up to you.  This is a way to think about being “chosen”.

We could get into a long discussion of election and predestination.  If I thought that I could work out that issue in a couple of minutes, I would. But as Christians have debated that issue for 2000 years, I will move over to the importance of it.

When you go to a wedding, it is because you are invited.  Someone chose you to come.  It would be very strange to walk into a wedding uninvited. Maybe you just love weddings.  Would you attend and stay for the reception?  No.

You belong to the wedding because the Bride and Groom invited you.

The same is true for you as a Christian.  You did not crash the gates.  You did not come and say, “Hey, this looks like fun! Let me in!”  The Lord made a way for you to come in Jesus.  He paid for your invitation. The Lord not only invited, but he persuaded you.  He persuaded you through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of others, through the truth of the Gospel.

Don’t think that you are better than others. You are in the family of God because the Lord chose you to come.

You were invited and then you were able to attend.  As to choice…well that takes us back to Augustine and Calvin.

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Let me interrupt this thought – 2 Corinthians 5:3

tentI am trying to make sense of this passage from 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 ESV

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

My syntactical analysis looks like this:

For we know that

if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed,

we have a building from God, 

a house

not made with hands,

eternal

in the heavens. 

For in this tent we groan,

longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 

if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 

For while we are still in this tent,

we groan,

being burdened—

not that we would be unclothed,

but that we would be further clothed,

so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 

He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, 

who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

 

Now this looks like a chiasm starting to form. That is where you have a structure like ABCDBCA.  the ABC is about a building that is eternal compared with a tent that is temporary.  but then v. 3, which has occupied scholars endlessly, is a kind of interruption. Perhaps Paul is interrupting himself, like a preacher might, and saying – “and by the way, proto-gnostics who are listening,  we will not be disembodied spirits but embodied ones”

This would not be good if we were talking about a neat and tidy essay, or an academic paper. But Paul is a preacher, talking to an audience, and so in the middle of a tidy structure, it makes perfect sense to interrupt himself.

I’m a preacher. I ought to know.  We do it all the time.

And why does the house/tent metaphor become one about clothing, and then one where life eats death.  English teachers hate this sort of thing, but there is a lot of it in the bible.  Preachers do that sort of thing also.

My sermon summary is this:

  1. Our future is more real than the present.
  2. We live in a tent but we own a home
  3. Life overcomes death, so live with confidence