Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Performing the divine warrior - Tim Gombis

In his book The Drama of Ephesians, Tim Gombis says the following in a chapter entitled "Performing the Divine Warrior" (page 156). I will highlight a few things in this colour in italics.

"According to Ephesians, the church performs the cosmically significant role of divine warfare through mundane embodiments of God's life on earth. Cosmic conflict does not involve defiant chest thumping in the face of the defeated powers. On the contrary, we are called to purposeful, humble, cruciform faithfulness as we perform Jesus for the good of the world. As we will see, the church participates in this transformative process, it harnesses and radiates God's resurrection power, which has a transformative effect on outsiders. This is how the people of God transform their surrounding cultures. This is in direct contrast to the church's long tradition of aggressive coercion and harsh denunciation. Such strategies are surrenders in divine warfare, since they are capitulations to worldly community dynamics. The church must also be a community of wisdom and discernment. And finally, the church must be a culture of justice. When the people of God cultivate these patterns of life, the church performs the role of divine warrior in the world." (Emphasis added)

Gombis goes on to say that Ephesians 6:10-18 has more to do with Isaiah 59:15-19 than the armour of a Roman soldier. (pages 157-8)

Then Gombis says,

"The enemy in the church's warfare is not the world or people in the world but the powers. And, as we will see, the strategy is not militant. In fact, Paul's instructions for engaging the spiritual conflict are quite subversive, upending notions of militancy. But we should expect such a move by this point. Throughout the Old Testament, human actors in divine warfare episodes subvert expectations by taking on postures of weakness. Paul performs his role in continuity with this theme through cruciformity; he imitates the earthly performance of Jesus by inhabiting a role of humility, self-sacrifice and weakness. Paul purposefully performs a cruciform role so that God's triumph might be seen clearly by the powers he has defeated in Christ." (Page 159; emphasis added)

"Our warfare involves resisting the corrupting influences of the powers. The same pressures that produce practices of exploitation, injustice and oppression in the world are at work on church communities. The church's warfare involves resisting such influences, transforming corrupted practices and replacing them with life-giving patterns of conduct that draw on and radiate the resurrection power of God. Our warfare, then, involves purposefully growing into communities that become more faithful corporate performances of Jesus on earth." (Pages 159-160; emphasis added)

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