Study Guide: In Adam, In Christ

Sunday April 19, 2020 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

Individuals are interconnected as a part of the whole of humanity, something we are experiencing during this pandemic. Often, we can tend to view humanity with disdain, and feel that people in general are stupid. However, God looks upon humanity with compassion.

Extended Summary:

One of the things we are learning in today’s experience of the pandemic is that we are all interconnected. The Bible depicts this as a human corporate personality, as one being. This sermon addresses the question: How does God feel about the one-being of humanity?

Greg shared how he finds loving individuals, having compassion upon individual persons, much easier than loving humanity as a whole. He actually views the one-being of the human race with cynicism and judgment, a view that he learned from his relationship with his dad, who imparted to him a view that humans are basically stupid. When Greg became a Christian, the basic teachings reinforced this view, as the emphasis lay on the premise that humans are inherently sinful. For instance, Augustine described humanity as a “mass of damnation,” a despicable group by nature, and loathsome creatures who deserve to be squashed.

This view correlates with typical pagan views of deities. The gods look upon humanity with disdain because that is what they are worth. It is no wonder so many think that to honor humans, one must jettison God. They must rebel against the God who squishing humans for who they are.

It is true that the Bible depicts humans as being sinful, as being enslaved to powers who are in rebellion against God. We are capable of good and evil, but under the influence of these powers we express evil more than good. However, Jesus reveals what God is like, and he did not walk around with utter disdain toward stupid humans. Instead, Jesus offered compassion. In fact, he does not express anger toward stupid humans, except toward religious leaders who are oppressing average people. This is viewed in a story found in Luke when Jesus is entering Jerusalem and reflects upon the forthcoming judgment, he weeps.

If anyone had a valid reason to offer anything but compassion, it was Jesus. However, on the cross, after being beaten and treated as the lowest of the low, he said, “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.” They were walking in ignorance, and he offered compassion. How dare we disparage what Jesus so loved?

The parables drive this point home, including the parable of the lost coin, about which Greg spoke last week. Another is found in the same chapter of Luke 15, that is the parable of the lost sheep. The main point is that God must get every last one of the sheep. 99% of the sheep is not enough. God searches for every human until he finds the last one. God must save all because he is in love with all corporate nature of humanity.

We see this in the teaching of Paul in 1 Cor 15:21-22 where we read that all are in Adam, which refers to our shared guilt, brokenness, and estrangement from God. But also, all are made alive through Christ.

Then in Romans 5, he says that justification and life is for all. The abounding grace of God does not just break even. It is “how much more” than the bondage to sin. God over-abounds in love. God’s grace over-corrects sin. When God is fully revealed, the unsurpassable glory of God’s love will more than make up for the horrors of this present world, rendering them insignificant.

We are united in Adam, in the brokenness of humanity. We are part of Team Brokenness. While at the same time we are united in Christ. In 2 Cor 5:13-16, we read that Christ died for all and therefore all have died. All in some sense have died with the death of Christ. But even more, he wants all to live the life of the resurrection. Therefore, we do not view others from a human point of view. We are to ignore what we see on the surface. What is going on behind the scenes is what matters.

Is this universalism? Greg confessed that he hopes it is because love hopes all things. At the same time, the Bible is clear that if one rejects God’s love there are consequences. Jesus accomplished the forgiveness for all. It is done. What is real is that all are included. The question is whether or not we will choose to accept what God has done.

This leads back to the question: How then does God view humanity? There are many times that God addresses Israel as “my son.” This correlates with how God views all of humanity as his corporate son. Imagine being a parent of a child who messes up and you have to allow him or her to experience the pain and consequences of their stupid choice. At the same time, a loving parent longs for reconciliation and relates to the child out of compassion. This is illustrated in the book of Hosea 11. There we read about the love and compassion in the midst of human stupidity and evil.

This applies to you individually and us corporately. God knows you, and all of the reasons why you do what you do, and in this he offers compassion. Corporately, we are all a part of Team Brokenness, while at the same time we are a part of Team Redemption. Therefore, we must be a people who reflect the compassion of God. We are all stupid and it is not up to us to respond to the stupidity in any other way than how God responded. We are all broken and we are all loved.

Reflection Questions: