Queensland SCM Newsletter - November 2013
A FRESH (BIBLICAL) PERSPECTIVE ON SALVATION
Did you know that the only time the noun salvation (Greek - swthria) occurs in any of the gospels in regard to Jesus using it of a person's response to him, occurs in the story narrated in Luke 19:1-10.
The passage contains the famous account of Jesus' encounter with Zaccaheus, a chief tax-collector. Zacchaeus was "very rich" (19:2). He was also "trying to see Jesus". However, he was a short bloke so he had to climb a tree to catch sight of Jesus.
But Jesus caught sight of him and invited himself to Zacchaeus' home! (19:5) And Zacchaeus hurried home and welcomed Jesus.
After the welcome, what he said is recorded in this gospel account. It was not an utterance about religion. Or an intention to become a pious believer. None of these things! Instead, Zacchaeus talked about economic re-distribution.
"Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay four times as much."
And what does Jesus say to this declaration that Zacchaeus will distribute his wealth (so that half of it will go to the poor) and, that if he has been unscrupulous in collecting his riches, he'll make restitution fourfold?
Well, Jesus sees this intended action as a clear indication of salvation. He declares:
"Today salvation has come to this house".
If Christians are keen on experiencing salvation, then this passage clearly indicates that, as far as Jesus is concerned, salvation encompasses economic sharing.
And this passage does not stand alone. A little earlier a rich ruler had encountered Jesus and Jesus had challenged him with the same flavoured salvation (18:18-30).
And Paul, in 2 Corinthians 8:8-14, has a similar message to Luke 19:1-10. Paul talks about the affluent redistributing their wealth to those in need. Indeed the only time that the Greek words translated as 'equality' are used in the Christian scriptures are to be found in 8:13-14. (The RSV and NIV translations retain this accurate translation - the NRSV fudges it with a euphemistic phrase "fair balance".)
So if Christianity is about salvation, then Luke 19:1-10, with its challenge of economic redistribution to the poor, needs to be on the agenda of Christians.
A BRIEF BOOK REVIEW
I wish to commend a recently published book introducing readers to the life and theology of Pope Francis. The book, written by Paul Vallely, is entitled POPE FRANCIS - Untying the Knots, (Bloomsbury, London, 2013). It gives signs of being written hastily - with repetition and some printing errors - but it is still a worthwhile read.
The Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, on being elected Pope, chose to be known to the world as Pope Francis. That is a name that resonates powerfully and emotively, not only in the ranks of Catholic Christians throughout the world, but that name ripples through the devotion of Christians beyond that Church.
It signals a man and an agenda that brings a gentleness, a care and a concern for people and for the earth. And in one of his earliest uterances as Pope, he voiced a commitment that St Francis had put into practice in his own lifetime of devotion to Christ - a commitment to the poor. The new Pope spoke of his intention to serve "a poor Church, for the poor".
The book will give you a background to Pope Francis' own journey of life and faith. What he will achieve as leader of the largest Church in the world we have yet to see. But there are many, many Christians who wish him well.
INTERESTED IN EARNING UP TO $2,000 AS A PART-TIME SCM STAFF WORKER
Key goals of a part-time SCM Development Worker are as follows
1. To explore ways to link university students with the SCM.
2. To seek to link students through contemporary communication to an SCM network of fellow students
3. To establish an SCM-sponsored discussion group at your university campus.
Remuneration is $30 per hour with flexible working hours that suit the development worker. If you are interested to learn more, simply contact Ray Barraclough at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND NOW FOR A LIGHTER ITEM...
My brother likes puns and passed these on to me:
* Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
* Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
* She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
* In a democracy it's your vote that counts. in feudalism it's your count that votes.
This SCM Newsletter is compiled and transmitted by Rev Dr Ray Barraclough on behalf of the Queensland SCM.