In the movie, “Taken,” ex-Green Beret and CIA operative, Brian Mills has a “very particular set of skills.” So, when he receives a frantic phone call from his daughter as she’s being taken by sex traffickers who plan to sell her as a prostitute, Brian Mills with all his skills becomes a man of action. We’d all like to become men and women of action.
“Pastor, give me some skills,” and all we get is words, in “church” and in Romans, it would seem.
Israel had been and still was Paul’s “church,” but Israel had rejected God’s Word; ignorant of God’s Word, and seeking to establish their own word, they did not submit to God’s Word
Romans 11:1 “I ask then, has God rejected his people?” asks Paul.
Nazis and some Christians have said, “Yes, because they rejected him; Hell is full of Jews.”
I once heard of a young father who accidentally shot his beloved daughter, thinking she was an intruder. She jumped out of the closet and yelled “Boo.” But before he heard the word, he had pulled the trigger—her last words were “Daddy, I love you.” Those words could utterly unmake a man’s ego.
Thinking Jesus was an intruder, Israel crucified her beloved Messiah—his last words were “They don’t know… Father forgive… into your hands I commit my Spirit.” Before they heard the Word, they took action and committed the greatest crime in history.
So, what should be their punishment? Would you send them to hell?
“Whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you do to me,” said Jesus.
Israel is our Lord’s brothers. Wishing them to hell is like shooting your own daughter.
It’s not only Israel that took the life of the Word on the tree in the garden.
Romans 11:1 “I ask then has God rejected his people? By no means!”
Why has God not rejected his people, we ask?
Romans 11:5 “… at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by Grace.”
Here Paul loses us, for what does “a remnant” have to do with the whole?
You may have noticed: God speaks to all of Israel, through all of time, as if Israel were one man.
“When the blessing and the curse has come on you… and you return to the Lord… then the Lord will have mercy on you… and gather you from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you (Deut. 30:1-5).”
In the Old Testament, it’s as if all is one and one is all.
And it’s as if you can’t be a real person without other persons.
After World War II, soldiers suffering from amnesia, would stand in front of the crowd gathered in the Paris Opera House, and ask “who am I?” They didn’t want serial numbers but stories of relationships with persons.
Who am I without everyone that I’m related to?
If my daughter isn’t saved, how could I be saved? And if her husband isn’t saved, how could she be saved? And if his Dad isn’t saved…
This web of faith hope and love extends to everyone that’s anyone.
When I’m honest I have to admit that my psyche is inseparably linked to all these other psyches.
However, I’m often not honest . . . for it feels unsafe.
“If you seek to save your psyche, you’ll lose it,” said Jesus.
Something’s wrong with my psyche; it only wants to save itself, which is losing itself, for it is literally comprised of all these relationships with all these other psyches.
“But if you lose your psyche, for my sake, you’ll find it,” said Jesus.
At the cross, my self-centered psyche is undone, and yet, I get that psyche—all those relationships—back, but in a new way: no longer as harlotry but communion in the freedom of Unconditional Love, which is Life, which is the psyche of Jesus.
Paul is saying that there’s something left to save in Israel, and you can’t save that something without saving all of Israel.
A father knows this about his children, for he knows and is known by his children before his children have learned to hide their spirit in an ego.
When my children say “Dad,” or “Daddy,” I know that I am them and they are me.
Saving them is saving me and saving me is saving them.
So why did Brian Mills employ all his skills and suddenly become a man of such action?
Was it because someone said, “You should save girls from pornographers, and we’ll pay you?”
Or was it because he heard a word, and the word was “Daddy?”
Brian Mill’s daughter is “taken,” to be sold as a harlot.
But what if your daughter were taken by a lie and so sold herself?
Then you would need a more powerful set of skills than even Brian Mills, for if you killed your daughter’s captor, you’d be killing your daughter.
She needs to be saved from herself. And so do you.
We need to be saved from our bad decisions, with a good decision called “faith.
At first, it’s only the size of a Seed—the Promised Seed.
Isaiah is told to preach Israel down to a remnant and then a stump, which is a root, which is the Seed—who is the only begotten Son of God.
The Word was in the heart of Israel (Romans 10:8), and he is worth saving; he is worth raising from the dead, but you can’t save one without saving all—all his brothers and sisters.
And the Word is in you (Romans 10:8)—Perhaps the Father breathed him into you in the beginning, where he has been imprisoned in the stone temple of your heart.
Perhaps he rises from the dead when the Word preached communes with the word in your soul.
Perhaps you begin to live when your psyche dies, and you know that all is one and one is all, which is the psyche of Sacrificial Love, which is Life, which is Jesus—the Word in flesh.
Whatever the case, “When we cry ‘Abba Father, it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”
Jesus is worth raising from the dead, but you can’t raise one, without raising all.
“I can’t be saved without you, for I am you,” says the Father to the son.
“I can’t be saved without you, for I am you,” says Jesus to his brothers from behind the curtain in the sanctuary of every soul and from the mouth of all that have heard the Word.
When asked who would be in heaven. Abraham Lincoln replied “Everyone . . . or no one.”
He had heard the Word, became a man of action, and God used him to save us all from ourselves. . . not with guns, but words.
If you’ve heard the Word, you will know what to say and employ all your skills in saying it. You will speak the word, even as the word calls to you from behind the curtain in the temple that is your neighbor: “Who am I?” You will answer, “I know who you are, and I know who we are; we are one flesh, one body, one family, one party just waiting to happen; we are one; I am you and you are me, and so I can’t be saved without you.”