At Work in Your Midst

Ever pray for God to be at work in a situation, in a place, in a relationship, in a church?

I’m pretty sure I have. And it never much occurred to me that I might be doing something exceedingly dangerous. It was reflecting on “atonement” in the Luke-Acts that made me think twice.

I remember being taken aback my first semester of my PhD program when people were off-handedly talking about Luke not having an atonement theology. But as I started to dig in I saw the point: Luke seems to have purposely eliminated Mark’s ransom saying. It may be replaced by the saying about coming to serve at table. And, if Bart Ehrman is right, Luke may have eliminated the sacrificial overtones of the last supper.

The cross serves a different kind of purpose in Luke: it makes the Jewish people, in particular, realize that they need God’s forgiveness (rather than making such forgiveness possible).

But then, that brings us up to the problem: the reason they should see they need forgiveness is that God was at work in their world–and they didn’t see it.

Worse, they didn’t merely miss seeing it, they actively worked against it. They opposed the one through whom God was at work, actively and powerfully.

And here is where I circle back to my question: are we really sure we want God to be at work in our midst? What if he is, and we miss it? What if he is, and we actively oppose it?

If the ministry of Jesus shows us anything, it is that the people who should have the clearest vision–both because of their knowledge of scripture and the ways of God and because of their proximity to God’s work–are the ones who oppose the work of God most vehemently.

Yes, of course, I want God at work.

But we should be as diligent in praying for eyes to see and celebrate that God at work as invoking the action in the first place.

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