It seems that most of evangelical and orthodox Christianity is stuck in the already/not yet of the transition period. I wrote a blog post entitled "stuck in the sixties" a while back. If one lives near Berkeley CA, one can see many old hippies that have refused to change over the years, though they are in their 60's and 70's they have remain stuck in the 1960's. Well, evangelical doctrine is stuck in the AD 60's of the first century.
I would love to see Christianity break free of this and walk in the reality of the "New Jerusalem." Remember that Paul said that the New Jerusalem was available in his day. Galatians 4:24-28 HCSB "These things are illustrations, for the women represent the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai and bears children into slavery--this is Hagar. (25) Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. (27) For it is written: Rejoice, childless woman, who does not give birth. Burst into song and shout, you who are not in labor, for the children of the desolate are many, more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband. (28) Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise." In the above passage, Paul quotes Isaiah 54:1 which proves that the Jerusalem he refers to in Galatians is indeed the "New Jerusalem." Therefore, the passage in Revelation quoted above in all of the posts in this series refers to the same New Jerusalem Paul spoke of who he says is the mother of us all.
In the last post I began to bring together two concepts. 1) The gospel of Paul that deals with redemption, salvation, justification, and a personal relationship with Jesus... and... 2) The gospel of reform and social justice that Jesus spoke of in the gospels. They are two sides of the same coin. However, Paul and the first century saints taught that the former is the transforming catalyst for the latter. So then, the gospel is not just about preparing one for acceptance in heaven. It is also about preparing one to live a kingdom style life here on earth. In other words, Jesus stated them in the gospels during his earthly sojourn, however it was impossible to be really compliant without the understanding that Paul brings into play. The gospel as Paul explains it, creates the proper heart condition of peace with the Father, and love for the Father, that should result in being able to love as Christ commanded. Loving as Christ commanded demands one be focused on social justice and reform.
However, it will only really work as people truly rest in the grace of God thus overcoming the fear that comes from the high standards of God's Law. This is why Paul makes a point of one being NOT under law, but under GRACE. It is also the reason that John penned what we find written in John 1:17 HCSB "for the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." This is why those who have perverted the gospel to demand law righteousness create such a stumbling block to the realization of the New Jerusalem. The kingdom can only really be established, in an atmosphere of love and reconciliation. Galatians 5:13 HCSB "For you were called to be free, brothers; only don't use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love." The serving one another through love aspect is the place where Jesus' concerns for social justice should come into play. The rugged individualist ideal that is so American has no place whatsoever in the kingdom of God. It merely proves that sadly, Evangelicalism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy have missed the mark, missed the way in their doctrine.
The fruit of the Spirit will always promote social justice and reform. Those who refuse to see that the scripture over the years reflects the culture it is from, and then pushes the envelop for reform miss the mark. That was true in the Old Testament, and is also true in the New Testament. So many think that working within the culture is a bad thing. It is not. God said in Genesis 1:31 that his creation, including mankind was good. God has had prophets through every stage of the development of humanity to push the the limits of reform. Shouldn't there be prophetic voices today doing the same from the ranks of Christianity?
I want to include all of the posts in this series so that you can read it as a series.