Wednesday, January 17, 2007


"The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Jesus,
and unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written:

'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
for he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim
release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.'

He then rolled up the scroll,
gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.
And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

He said to them, 'Today, in your hearing, this Scripture is fulfilled.'"
- Luke 4:17-21

At JUMC, we are continuing our discussion about what constitutes a divine vision, as we seek God's vision for our future.

Jesus' own "vision statement" is contained in this week's Gospel lesson, in which Our Lord makes reference to Isaiah 61. One of the interesting aspects of this passage is its counterpart in Mark 6. Mark's Gospel mentions Jesus speaking in Nazareth, but omits the precise passage.

Most scholars agree that Luke utilized Mark as a primary source. Why did Luke, then, add this passage?

We see hear a clear example of the "Lukan gospel". Whereas Mark emphasizes penitence and belief, Luke emphasizes orthopraxis, or "correct practice". Far too often, Christians (especially evangelicals) have emphasized "correct belief" (orthodoxy) at the expense of "correct practice". As a result, those on the margins of Church and/or society have often been neglected or forgotten.

We need orthodoxy and orthopraxis. In my view, historic Methodism embodies this dichotomy beautifully. Certainly John Wesley proclaimed the importance of orthodox Christian belief, and is rightly considered one of the key forefathers of contemporary evangelicalism. But Wesley also placed a great deal of emphasis on the "means of grace", both works of piety (prayer, Bible reading, communion, etc.) and works of mercy (feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, etc.).

Local churches tend to be relatively effective at performing works of piety. Works of mercy are a bit more difficult, though, since they often require us to "step outside of ourselves", roll up our sleeves, and get our hands dirty. The important sacrificial aspect of Christian living can be found in these works of mercy, and we need to be involved in these sacrifices. After all, Jesus makes it clear in Luke's Gospel that what we do is at least as important as what we believe.

As retired Salvation Army officer Henry Gariepy puts it, "Holiness without social concern is as a soul without a body, but social concern without holiness is as a body without a soul. One is a ghost, the other a corpse. Only when they are wedded together do we have a healthy, life-giving gospel."

* Read this for an excellent and concise discussion of orthopraxis and John Wesley.

* Read this for an excellent and concise study of the means of grace in Methodism.

1 comment:

Brett Probert said...

I had orthopraxis last fall but 10 days of antibiotics and I was as good as new!