Our gatherings, Consulates of the Kingdom, Embassies of the Age to Come, demonstrating and sharing life living between the Already and the Not Yet should never become static. This brings us to the third and fourth components of our six-part answer to our question about what we, as Yeshua's people, are supposed to be doing. We are called to be active. Let's look at these two aspects of that calling: Maturation and Obedience.
We saw last time that our gatherings are familial gatherings of the people of God, and that we are siblings to one another in the Presence and power of Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. As members of the the Father's family we should be maturing into his likeness. Aren't we told that we are all created in the likeness and the image of God? Of course! Much of our life task is to grow to more perfectly reflect that image. The Spirit is at work in our lives to make this happen, and the goal is that we should increasingly exhibit Yeshua's character because he is "the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature" (Hebrews 1:3).
Through our mutual accountability, and through the work of the Spirit in our midst, Yeshua's familial gatherings are meant to mature in his image, loving the LORD our God with all our hearts, souls, and minds, loving our neighbors as ourselves, and loving each other as the Messiah loved us. Our activities are not simply worship activities, nor are they simply outreach or "ministry" activities. They are character activities, growing up together into his image.
The phrase, "the obedience of faith," appears three times in the Apostolic Witness (The Newer Testament). The first time it applies to Jewish people, and the other times, to the Gentile world.
The first reference is to cohannim, Jewish priests in Jerusalem, becoming obedient to the faith, meaning living lives reflecting the dynamics and imperatives of Yeshua-faith. The other two references refer to Paul's ministry nurturing among the Gentiles, the pagan world of his time, lives reflecting the same dynamics of the Spirit and imperatives dictated by faith in Yeshua.
But does that mean that Jewish obedience and Gentile obedience were meant to look the same? No. This is, for example, why Paul was adamantly opposed to Gentiles undergoing ritual circumcision, which was an initiation into the imperatives of Jewish life. It is also why James/Ya'akov, tells Paul in Acts 21 that while he expects Paul to demonstrate that "you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law. But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality” (Acts 21:24-25).
Paul makes the same point in Romans 3 where he upholds both the unity and diversity of the people of God. Both Jews and Gentiles are justified through faith, but they remain distinct. The Jews are the circumcised, and thus are obliged to keep God's law, and the Gentiles are the uncircumcised, from whom is required "no such thing," as James puts it. Here is what Paul says:
29 Is God the God of the Jewish people only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also. 30 Since God is One, He will set right the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.
How elegant. The unity of God is upheld, as well as the unity of His people, who are nevertheless by design diverse in nature and in life, and through this elegant diversity, Torah is not nullified, but rather upheld!
Only God could do this! And only God could enable us to perform these two aspects of our job description, maturing in the family likeness, and demonstrating the obeidence of faith for the sake of His Name!
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For a video linked to this post, see https://youtu.be/4ONzl-CL7sM