sexta-feira, 17 de abril de 2015

TRASH AND SALVATION


God has made this Jesus,
whom you crucified,
both Lord and Messiah.

Acts 2:36 (read 2.14-41) - NIV

The wonders of technology are creating a disposable world with cans, bottles, cardboard boxes, plastic or paper bags and Styrofoam being only a few examples of things trashed after being used. Even consumer items such as: shoes, digital clocks, radios and other small electronic devices are thrown away when they either break, need fixing or just get out dated. Repair or renovation is more expensive than buying new.

This trend does not only refer to inanimate objects. The environment, which took billions of years to form, is being ignorantly trashed. Forests and green areas are falling victims to greed and commercial exploitation. Very little is being placed on reserve. Our growing consumerism is destroying what were once abundant resources. We are destroying our Mother Earth who sustains us.

People, too, are being trashed. Our socio/economic system is sustained by the sacrifice of human beings. A very small minority controls almost all of the riches and keeps most of humanity in relative poverty. Billions of people are condemned to eke out their living in subhuman conditions of extreme poverty.

Jesus was trashed. He was insignificant in terms of the culture of his time. He lived on the margins of society, was of humble origin and was without any political or economic power. He had only a small and unstable group of followers who had little economic or social expression. He was disposable and was a perfect victim for the powerful to use to protect themselves and to satisfy the frustrations of the masses.

The biblical passage that is cited at the beginning of this text (independent of any theological interpretation) is a symbol of our present age. Appearances can be deceiving. In fact, we are trashing much of that which is essential for the welfare and even the salvation of our heirs. Our last Will and Testament is a Will of Death. In the cited text, Jesus who was thought to be expressionless and disposable was really a means of salvation.

Humanity has not changed throughout the centuries. We continue to throw away our salvation in many ways and at all levels. We practice an exclusive and selfish religion that seeks only our own immediate “salvation" or maybe some salvation in the “sweet bye and bye”. Our concern for ourselves is unrelated to community life and political and economic policy. We leave the world to its own devices while we defend our own little interests. We tolerate violence and injustice not realizing that the destruction of others will eventually come home to us and make us the victims of ourselves.

To discard the lives of some is to throw away the lives of everyone, including our own. This is the modern way of rejecting Jesus and ignoring the principles of the Kingdom which is motivated by love and compassion. By closing our hearts to the outcasts of our society: the minorities, the poor, the sick, the immigrants (both documented and undocumented) and to all who have been marginalized by our society we are pushing the world further into the abyss.

What is the way of salvation? Peter pointed to repentance (changing direction). The listeners of Peter were good people and religious, just like us. The "good" need to change their ways more than others, because we are not aware that our kind of religion is part of the problem. Repentance means changing the way we practice our faith. The Gospel should become a style of life and not a system of belief. Living the Gospel, not believing the Gospel, is the true way of salvation. True belief includes commitment.

 

ACTS 2:14-41 – NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (NIV)

PETER ADDRESSES THE CROWD

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

“‘In the last days, God says,

    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

Your sons and daughters will prophesy,

    your young men will see visions,

    your old men will dream dreams.

Even on my servants, both men and women,

    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,

    and they will prophesy.

I will show wonders in the heavens above

    and signs on the earth below,

    blood and fire and billows of smoke.

The sun will be turned to darkness

    and the moon to blood

    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.

And everyone who calls

    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

“Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men,[b] put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

“‘I saw the Lord always before me.

    Because he is at my right hand,

    I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;

    my body also will rest in hope,

because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,

    you will not let your holy one see decay.

You have made known to me the paths of life;

    you will fill me with joy in your presence.

“Fellow Israelites, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was to come, he spoke of the resurrection of the Messiah, that he was not abandoned to the realm of the dead, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord:

    “Sit at my right hand

until I make your enemies

    a footstool for your feet.”

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.


 

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