Election in Christ

“Honor your father and mother that it might go well with you in the land the LORD your God is giving you…”  Exodus 20

Joe Rightmyer is a father in the faith.  He served for nine years as co-founder and director of Presbyterians for Renewal, the formal renewal movement within the mainline Presbyterian Church.  During his tenure with PFR, the organization spawned twelve ministries, serving youth (“Fun in the Son”), women, seminary faculty, pastors and congregations with the goal of “mobilizing the leaders of congregations within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to be biblically faithful and missionally minded in their service to Jesus Christ”.

Joe currently serves as the interim pastor at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), just up the hill from St. Gabriel’s school.  Joe and I initially met and got to know each other through a local pastors’ group.  We discovered that we had many Missisippi connections.  Recently, I ran into Joe in the parking lot at the mall and, after a brief conversation there, I set up a time to visit with him further.  I wanted to glean from his experience and wisdom as a pastor, husband, and father.  Midway through our follow up meeting, the conversation turned to a discussion about the 20th century theologian, Karl Barth.  Joe acknowledged Barth’s impact on him, particularly in Barth’s very Christ-oriented view of the doctrine of election.

Now, neither I nor Joe subscribe fully to Karl Barth’s theology, including his take on election.  That said, Barth helps rescue us from the realm of introspection and speculation by pointing us away from ourselves (primarily) and toward Jesus, the elect Son of God.

“We can gather what it means to be elect of God only from the model of human being we get by contemplating the one Jesus Christ.  He is the human being endowed with that special relation to God.  His life is the authentic realization of authentic election…The address of “I have called you by your name and you are mine”, applies to him by essence and actuality more than to any other….
Balthasar (quoting Barth), p. 179, The Theology of Karl Barth, Ignatius.

Or as Lesslie Newbigin has put it, “…the Gospel is good news of a very different kind.  It is news of the actual fact that in Jesus of Nazareth, crucified in Palestine under Pontius Pilate, God was reconciling the world to Himself.  It is He who is the elect of God, His beloved, His chosen One.  Our election is only by our incorporation in Him.  We are not elect as isolated individuals, but as members in His Body.”  Newbigin, The Household of God, p. 113.

This to say, as a part of His Body, we continually seek to orient ourselves toward Christ Jesus, and we continually seek to live from Christ Jesus, in response to Christ Jesus, by the power of His Spirit, to the glory of His Father.  That is what it means to be a people “created and sustained by God’s Word” – created and sustained by God’s Son.

The peace of the elect Son of God rest upon you and the Spirit of God empower you to walk humbly before him, to the praise of His Father, and ours,