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“The circumstances of Jesus’ arrival and his programmatic opening message and conduct of ministry – all these challenges and subvert notions of power and authority, of honor-seeking and status maintenance.  And the alternative political community and discourse and alternative social practices that come into being around Jesus, symbolically enacted in inclusive, status-blending, boundary-crossing meals, are deeply countercultural.  Nevertheless, the movement, its founder, and its adherents can be characterized, not only by the narrator but also by more than one Roman judicial arbiter, as lawful, just, and posing no threat to Roman order (e.g. Pilate in Luke 23, Festus in Acts 25.25, with Agrippa in 26.30-32).  Jesus and his followers, despite radical, visionary rhetoric, actually depose no one from a physical throne; the divine realm of which they speak will reconfigure the powers of the nations – but that world re-configuring will extend into the eschatological future.  In the meantime, they are charged to continue to proclaim “the Lord Jesus and the reign of God”…” John T. Carroll, Luke: A Commentary, p. 403

The ministry of Jesus was a full frontal attack on the prevailing social stratifications in both Jewish and Roman society.  The disciples who followed in the footsteps of Jesus also saw fit to minister to both Jews and Gentiles, crossing boundary markers along the way.  The countercultural ethos of early Christianity led to a reversal of values, the weak and sick were taken care of, the poor were valued, and the earnest desire to amass power and money at the expense of the 80-90% was left for others.  Yet, the puzzling feature of this countercultural way was that it posed no threat for Rome, or at least in the eyes of Pilate, Festus and Agrippa.  The power of the nations would not change in the lifetimes of Peter, Paul, and James, but would have to await a time in the future. This kind of eschatological waiting was part and parcel of Paul’s theology as well.  James D.G. Dunn puts Paul’s perspective of the already/not yet into proper view,

“Fundamental to Paul’s conception of the process of salvation, therefore, is his conviction that the believer has not arrived yet, is not yet perfect, is always in via, in transit.  It is this which determines the experience of “being saved” as a process of “eschatological tension” – the tension between a work “begun” but not “complete,” between “fulfillment” and “consummation,” between a decisive “already” and a still yet to be worked out “not yet…Paul’s gospel was eschatological not because of what he still hoped would happen, but what he already believe had happened.  What had already happened (Easter and Pentecost) had already the character of the end and showed what the end would be like.”

James D.G. Dunn, The Theology of the Apostle Paul, 465.

As Christians, we live in between times also.  Already salvation has been accomplished by the Son on the Cross, that work finished in the resurrection and ascension.  Yet, we know that Satan and the powers of darkness still have sway over this age, it isn't until the Second Coming that the all that is tainted by sin will be undone and Christ will reign fully victorious over all earthly powers.  We have hope because of the past and yet we have hope because we kernels of the future hope in the present, in the justice that we see, in the mercy that we found around us, and in the grace that flows from believers loving their neighbors well all around them.


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