Monday, October 09, 2006

A Violated Covenant- from "For This Land" by Vine DeLoria ,Jr.

cut and paste this link for more info:

On The Case of The American Indian In World History from: "For This Land" by Vine DeLoria Jr. The essay was written some time in the sixties the Book itself is a year or two old. A reviewer of this book wrote,
"This is a book that every American should read, especially Christians, educators and students of religion.”
Vine DeLoria is one of the great interpreters of religion in America. If one can remain a Christian after reading this book, s/he might be a pretty good one." I agree with this assessment completely as a Christtian and an American Indian. Real truths, especially religious or political truths, are only arrived at when the mind and the beliefs it stores are challenged and contemplated.
This essay definitely brings some very relevant points that bring the breadth and depth of the case into a clearer and more accurate focus.

American Indians are in the situation they are in to this day because of a total inability of the non-Indian Christian world to understand itself. Educational, economic, social and legal problems of Indian peoples stem almost directly from protestant theology and a misapplication of basic
biblical ideas in the arena of political thought. Until the non-Indian peoples understand themselves and the religion they profess to confess, the
situation will grow continually worse. The time may yet come within our lifetime of a genocidal war against American Indians being waged by these same churchgoing Christians who are now obliterating other parts of Southeast Asia. With such a prospect in the offing, is it any wonder that from a variety of sources from within the American Indian community have come voices attempting to raise a variety of issues? For many Indian people understand all too well the inability of the Christian peoples to realize their religion here on Earth as a viable social force. Too many times Indian peoples have seen the humanity of Christianity give way to more abstract forms of oppression by people firmly convinced they are following God's will. And fanatically determined to carry out God's will as they are able to understand it, they have perpetuated massacres and theft unparalleled in the history of mankind.
The most drastic error of Protestant theology as applied to the American Indian peoples has been the total inability of the Christians to understandtheir own idea of "covenant".
Initially, a covenant was a pact between the peoples of two nations whereby the integrity of each nation was pledged to uphold the agreement. A covenant did not give people the right to intrudeon the other partner of the agreement. Indeed, it meant that the spiritual faith of the two peoples was pledged so that the agreement called for the best efforts of the two groups to fulfill the terms of the agreement.
With the development of Christian theology after the death of Jesus the whole idea of The New Covenant permeated explanations of the meaning of life and death of the founder of the religion. Declaring that everyone who accepted the teachings of Jesus, later Paul and still later Luther, the various Christian denominations found in the idea of a New Covenant a community transcending time and space and bound together by a faith in the uniqueness of history as exemplified in the Christian story.
Where the New covenant meant new community, a gathering of saints, a
communion of the saved, to that degree the individuals composing the heavenly city were required to act positively in response to the message they proclaimed to the world and by which they were encouraged to judge the secular world. Thus Christians were told that they had been freed to live in a state of near-grace. By transcending the law and dwelling permanently within covenantal relationship, Christians bound themselves to living a life of creative , a life in which they were not judged solely by their transgressions of law, but by the vision of life in it's totality toward which they marched.
But, there was no corresponding understanding by Christians taken as a corporate group that they had a duty to incarnate the covenantal life in their relationships with peoples different than themselves. Law quickly replaced covenant and Christianity bogged down to the concept of a god who laboriously recorded each and every transgression of individuals for use in the afterlife when He would exact vengeance. It was this lower conception of divinity and hence society that Christians believed in when the "New World" was "Discovered". And the early colonial governments reflected ascales-and-balances concept of both law and covenant in their dealings with each other and with their own settlers. Combined with the perversion of covenant was a misapplication of the conceptof Genesis to go forth and multiply and the placement of man as havingdominion over all other species of creation. According to the Genesis legend, when man was given the right to name the animals, he was given dominion over them since by creating their names he had in effect participated in their creation also. As Co-Creator, one might have argued, man had a corresponding responsibility to care for the non-human elements of creation. In tending the garden of Eden, man had a corresponding responsibility to the earth itself to maintain it's fruitfulness. All of this, particularly the edict of man's responsibility, was perverted by Christian theologians.
Early in the history of North American exploration, the fundamental responsibilities of Genesis became interpreted as man's right, and basically
the White Man's right, to use whatever he wanted and however he wanted to use it. Thus, slavery was justified as God's rightful contribution to the
economic well being of the Americans, God's chosen people. Wholesale destruction of forests, the game, the original peoples of the continent were justified as part of god's plan to subdue and dominate an untamed wilderness. Nowhere was there any sense of stewardship between diverse elements of the new Christian settlers, either collectively or individually, and the continent as they found it.
Within THIS context one can trace the tragic story of the American Indian peoples. The United States and the individual colonies signed treaties with the various tribes at which the faith and good will of the United states and it's component states was pledged. Missionaries representing the respective denominations attended these treaty signing sessions, each assuring the tribal leaders that if the government of the United States did not uphold the treaty, his church and his God would guarantee them. Indeed, missionaries promised that God himself wanted the tribes to sign the treaties because of his foreordained plan to create cities, suburbs and shopping centers on the North American Continent.
Within the treaty context, then, total faith and good will of the two parties, the Indian tribe and the United states, were pledged. Treaties were covenants of the new lands insofar as they affected the relationships of individuals of the two disparate treaty groups. But, as soon as the treaties were signed, and often before the signing was even official, large groups of settlers following God's divine command to subjugate the Earth went forth into the reserved Indian lands. The tribes were thus pushed further and further backwards into the interior. At no point was there an acknowledgement by the allegedly religious people of the new nation that once having pledged the faith and validity of their religion, there was a corresponding responsibility to actually uphold the treaty.
The settlement of the continent, therefore, was one in which people, claiming to be divinely inspired members of a New Covenant, refused for a moment to keep their covenantal commitments to people whom they had given them.
Article by article, treaty by treaty, the spiritual faith given by the white Christians was violated in favor of God's other commandment, also misinterpreted, to subjugate the earth. It is therefore ridiculous to view Indian tribes as a people who do not and probably cannot understand the requirements of either religion or civilization. Both religion and civilization require, for their fundamental integrity, the premise that one can be taken at his word for what that word spiritually represents. Instead history has shown a marvelous ability of the white Christian to quibble on the meanings of specific words contained in treaties and statutes, finding in tortured interpretations of those words the loophole required when one is breaking faith.
In a corresponding development, responsibility to the Earth and it's creatures has been studiously avoided. Instead, exploitation for the sake of exploitation has been the rule. Property rights have taken precedent over any sense of affinity for living creatures and their rights. The buffalo were exterminated to provide grazing lands for cattle, and misuse of these grazing lands resulted in the creation of the Great Dust Bowl followed by farm programs in which land is kept unproductive in order to maintain a false economy for selected land owners while millions throughout the world starve.
The justification for taking American Indian lands has always been: they are not doing anything with them. Underlying this complaint has been the idea
that the earth itself can have no rest. it also must be exploited and used. There is no responsibility of man not to destroy the world. On the contrary, the more the world can be changed, the theology has run, the more concrete poured, the more freeways, apartment buildings, slums, football stadiums, in short, the more confused edifices created, the better God is pleased. God, then, created the Earth most ineptly. It was fortunate for God that man was available to recreate the world as it should be.
Now, the chickens have come home to roost. The entire Viet Nam fiasco revolves around the question of covenant. To what extent are we bound by our promise to protect the south Viet Nam republic? And the answer has been that we are bound to the point where it becomes our duty, our God given duty, to massacre old men, women and children and babies- for their own good - and for our good, to defend them. When 83% of the citizens of this country, this Christian Country, think that Lt. Calley did right in executing the people at My Lai, then one can see how far from the reality of
what they proclaim, the Christians have drifted in four centuries.
Instead of creating the world in a better way than the Deity- Christian peoples have only succeeded in creating a situation in which mankind may well extinguish itself within a generation unless pollution is controlled. And even that statement is not really correct. Unless the white Christians control pollution, all of mankind, Christian and non-Christian, may become extinct. This obvious fact, rather than the theological fancies of the past, tells us of the relative truth of the genesis legend. For if man was given the right to totally subjugate, then no harm would come to him. such, according to to our best scientific minds, is not and has not been the case. Outside of a massive repentance and a society turned completely around, there appears to be no solution to modern problems. Unless mankind takes it's responsibilities to the world, and unless Christians take their
responsibilities to non-Christians, as serious and critical calls to action, we really have no future. we will have created our own judgment day far in advance of any divine plans for the event.
In the field of human rights there must be a radical change in the
attitudes. If it has been stated that Indian treaties will be upheld, then it is the responsibility to uphold them. No amount of quibbling over phraseology can change that basic response. If all men are created in God's image, there should be no question, at least among those alleging to be Christians, to carrying out those programs and projects that will most nearly approximate that condition. The continual bickering over legal sophistries with respect to treaty rights, integration and race relations, welfare, the aged, orphans and burial rights, speaks of a society in which
law and not covenant dominates. That society and it's members who so loudly proclaim to be members of the covenant, the New Covenant, should either put up or shut up.
Most of us really know what is right. We rarely do it. But, there is a corresponding responsibility on Christians today that faces no other group. For Christians have not only proclaimed that they are right, they have proclaimed that they ALONE are right and that everyone else is wrong. And then they have backed away from their responsibilities to uphold the right. When minority groups have tried to get them to respond in a manner of spiritual commitment to the principles which they proclaim and not the legalistic footnotes behind which they have always hidden, then the
Christians have fought back thinking all efforts to make them live up to their responsibilities are subversive to the great society that they, allegedly with God's help, have created.
The case of the American Indian is clear and uncomplicated. American Indians suffer because the non-Indians have devised ways and means and rationalized arguments for not keeping their word. Non Indians have violated their covenants with Indian tribes. let them fulfill these treaties and covenants and then come talk to us about problems. for it is then we will be able to discern which problems are our problems and which problems created by non-Indians for us.- END
Thus these issues at hand are not part of some ancient or revisionist
history but part of the legacy of HERE and NOW. look at statistics on
social problems within the remnants of Indian's sickening, the highest ratios of poverty, mental illness, addiction, disease, suicide...look it up yourself instead of getting your news of the world from cable TV or talk show hosts who tell you all that all this multiculturalist crap is just an angle at raiding your tax dollars. These are the problems that beset a people when they are dehumanized by a white washed version of history and constantly reminded that their ancestors were not really people at all, the continent being empty of real people until 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue and they are not really people now, who deserve to have their treaties and rights upheld and deserve nothing more than a status as cartoonish mascots. Note that the council on race relations that convened under the Clinton administration and did a national tour composed itself of Whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. Where is the voice of the American Indian today? Nearly wiped out...nearly forgotten...
Do not insult our intelligence by telling us we are all on some theoretical equal playing field nowadays...after the hypocritical dominating culture has
decided how when, where and why the "game" is played. I dare say the
"playing field" would be very different if any philosophical or ideological input had been allowed by minority cultures...What year was it anyway when Blacks or Indians or women respectively were finally allowed to cast a vote?
Land ownership is the basis for all socio political power. Where the
lands of the American Indians have gone so too has gone most of their power, their voice and possible contribution to the betterment of the human race....
However, my father taught me this...The Indian Nations are not a defeated people, but rather, a people still under siege by a force that does not have our spiritual, cultural or ecological best interests at heart. The choice is yours...let it go and have yourself a drink...assimilate and participate in it...or fight it to the very bitter end...Is my choice too obvious? As too the religious aspects of the argument I would simply say that I wonder sometimes how God's will could be such as to produce this situation...the answer is that it has more to do with man's will than God's. It is not the fault of faulty data or religious insight from God, but the twisting of it by prideful man...his freewill that has made things the way they are. It's
not God's's man's fault...and I choose to remind people of that and hope they will reassess what they believe and why. So what does modern day America owe the remnants of the American Indians? That is the question it all comes down to every time isn't it? It is understood that either justice or the honoring of old promises and treaties is still too expensive or at least more than the culture at large is willing to give...How about some truth is history lessons then? Or perhaps a little bit of respect...a little dignity? How about changing the name of the professional football team in the Nation's capital to something other than "Redskins"? That in itself would be a start. I also encourage the Indian nations such as they
are to move away from the mentality of smoke shops, tourist traps, bingo parlors and casinos. My message to them is that before people will much listen to these kind of rants about the loss and disrespect of our culture- we need to raise the next generation to be something more than drunks, convenience store clerks, bingo callers, cocktail waitresses, blackjack dealers and bickering tribal politicians. It has all the earmarks of a lost cause eh? So what...I'm still going down swinging all the way. I think this is what a man is for in this fight the good fight no matter what the odds....besides I figure my time is better spent doing this than watching TV and filling my head with crap that a person would have to be crazy to give a rip about in the larger context of the meaning of life as a human being in God's image on this Earth.)
S. Starr


ccwman said...

The point you make is correct.
As we have discussed these issues many times, you already know my beliefs concerning this.
The final two lines of my web log's opening description encapsulates the propensity of Christians to "walk the line" of legalistic technical obedience, while at the same moment soiling the underpinning "spirit of the law."
[FROM;; Is God a "Letter of the Law" "Zero tolerance" despot? Or is Yahweh a "Spirit of the law" public servant?]

This is described in the following line from your above posting, "Instead history has shown a marvelous ability of the white Christian to quibble on the meanings of specific words contained in treaties and statutes, finding in tortured interpretations of those words the loophole required when one is breaking faith."
I will, however, offer one caveat.
► To have the keen ability to notice and highlight the obvious failures of one's fellow humans is a common human trait, while at the same time, being unable to notice those same shortcomings in oneself.
I mentioned this to my wife yesterday following our worship of the Lord. My statement to her, concerned my absurd ability to hear a deeply profound lesson from the minister and while hearing that lesson, which should be cutting through my Christian veneer, I say to myself, “I hope brother Joe is listening to this, because he really needs to straighten up.”
I assume that this same self-talk is happening all through the auditorium. In fact, I half suspect that “Brother Joe” is, using the exact same words, but filling in my name instead.

I may be correct that “Brother Joe” may be a reprobate.
“Brother Joe” may be just as correct about me.
However, I have no control over “Brother Joe’s” decision to become more like Christ and “Brother Joe” has no control over my decision to become more like Christ.

Also, many times when the culprits are vaguely identified, by a general carnal description, e.g. white, obese, and hairy, etc., they are unable to make the association that may seem obvious to the rest of the world.
I have known some white, hairy, and obese Christians, who thought of themselves as simply “Christian”.
Therefore, by adding more adjectives to describe the people, you may have the adverse affect of unintentionally excluding some people from considering themselves for self-improvement.

Now, with this caveat behind us, you are very correct about the historical problems that you describe.
Also, as you know, from my daily walk and my pondering this issue over the past 9 months, I have become more aware of how I have been naïve.
I have been reviewing my writings from the past and I don’t think that I was necessarily wrong, as much as I was simply blinded to the issues because of my vantage.

My willingness for honest self-analysis is important. But, I have found that so long as I am analyzing myself, I am ignoring the hurting of those who do not yet know hope.

There is a curious dichotomy in our ability to naturally or carnally see the pain that people are suffering, and yet not feel empathy for those same people.
In retrospect, I believe that dealing affirmatively with this issue was the key that helped me, in my mission, to “become Christ” to the world.
The John Eldridge series of books that began with “The Sacred Romance…” forced me to consider the following scripture.
Ezekiel 36:26-27, 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
► How can our God, who is spirit, give us a “flesh heart”?
► How did we come to possess “stone hearts”?
► How might the difference, between a heart of stone and a heart of flesh, become tangible?
My answer to these questions helped me to open my eyes to the issues you describe.
When I am willing to feel the pain and know the suffering of people, then my heart is flesh.
When I am cold, callused, unfeeling to the despair of those around me, then my heart is stone.
No one who knows the life of Jesus can say that he had a heart of stone.
Jesus was also willing to identify with the pain personally. He did not just acknowledge the pain, but he took the pain onto and into himself, at this point he was able identify with us.
A preacher who lives in the suburbs and drives his Lincoln Navigator across the tracks to preach to the poor and then at the end of the day hops back into his “ride” to go back to his “heaven on earth” will not be able to truly identify with life on the other side of the tracks.
And those to whom he preaches will rightly say that he talks a good game, but is a hypocrite.
Jesus did not shout instructions down to me via a megaphone, and all the while he was afraid that he might get splashed with a vulgar piece of humanity. Instead he became a “vulgar piece of humanity”, thus showing me that humanity is not so vulgar after all, because, God has the ability to take my vulgar nature and make me spiritually extraordinary.
We have had this discussion before, calling across the chasm, which divides us, i.e. Native American Christian and White American Christian, makes it difficult to unify in Jesus.
I feel set apart from you, please help me to become Christ only, in spirit & mind, this is what will close the rift between us.

Starrider said...

Well, thank you for a well thought out, measured and entirely appropriate response. As noted in the header for this blog- one of the..if not the chiefest mission statements is that of reconciliation. Note this passage from 2nd Corinthians 5:
The Ministry of Reconciliation

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he IS a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.- end

So then this passge says: We are to be ambassadors-
representatives of Christ- imitators of Christ. This is a job descrition- not just a platitude. Our job is not only to reconcile men to God- but to one another as is told to us throughout the ministry of Jesus. To even begin the mission of reconciliation we must be willing to listen to the pain, the bitterness, the soul wrenching hunger and longing of our fellow men- especially those whom have been born into a legacy of harm produced by those who represented the church and our respective people groups in days gone by. As is well known to all that know me personally - I am deeply grieved that my own ancestral ethnic grouping largely remains as of yet in an unreconciled legacy and bondage of pain, despair, poverty and bitterness. Only about 5% of all American Indians are reconciled to Christ. Many of them are so bitter with Christian and mainstream culture that they will lash out at even me for even suggesting that they should consider the Jesus Way. Yet, I believe that neither America or the First Nations of the Americas will get any closer to spiritual wholeness until THAT relationship between them is set right. You and I both know that there is only ONE way that that is going to happen.
For this to come about- as I was saying...someone has to care enough to step into the breach. Anyone experienced in conflict resolution of any kind will tell you that at the root of most conflicts is the feeling by at least one side that they have not been heard- not respected not given full status as someone who matters- who has their own special place and purpose in the scheme they share. This is not only true with "Indians" and "Whites"- but for all people, male and female, young and old,- red, yellow, black, white brown, tan, taupe etc.

I have set out this posting for the sole purpose of giving voice to the standing problem between the Native and the rest of Christian America. My hope is that someone will read that and say..."Yeah, that is the very nature of the problem right there,"- that a Native will say, "This is precisely true- these are the problems and there are others as well- hmmm this comes from someone who is not only Christian- but also there is one of US."

Because when that happens- we have taken a step towards fixing those problems...which will benefit not only Indians, but the rest of America...and by extension all other people who are both fascinated by the spiritual insight of the Red Man and who look up to America in general for all the things that are good about this country. Until this happens- we are not nearly as credible as evangelists or neighbors as we must be to fulfill God's job description for us- the Church.. The entire world knows the story of the beginnings of America and the wrongs that occured in the past. I recently listened to a speech by the President of Iran on C-span. he pointed directly to an example of the United States' treatment of American Indians as an example of the hypocrisy of OUR nation. By all this I do not mean to suggest that American Indians were totally innocent- but the World knows where the preponderance of the blame belongs. Perhaps it could be said that all the horror that occured was simply due to human weakness, to sin, even to Satan. But- if that kind of horror can flow through humanity- is it not possible for a much more powerful outflowing than what we have now of peace and goodness to occur? Much of Christendom says no...that the world is is full of wickedness, that evil is the ultimate reality on Earth and that all we can do is cultivate our "personal relationship" to God and hunker down and wait for the end of days. This concept is not scriptural- whatever pre-millenial doctrines may have to say about it- it is not what Jesus taught or said and it is a major point of departure between Christianity and other religions...especially Indigenous so eloquently observed by Vine DeLoria, Jr. as well as a multitude of other wise men from the Indigenous cultures of the world as well as other philosophical traditions and religious expressions. We have talked often- and it can be found elsewhere on this blog- about how the Kingdom of Heaven is NOW...its at is here...which tells me that PEACE, LOVE, FULFILLMENT and RECONCILIATION, are in fact all possible in the here and now and not just in some world down the road. This is not to say that sin and pain and death can ever be wiped out by human means- but that we can create a better world than what we have now. The Earth is a good and nuturing albeit often fierce and unforgiving was made for us and us for it. This is what me must work for and insist upon- by being a living example. This is what American Indians believe..consequently Jesus believed this also (which is why he bothered to reconcile all of fallen creation by his act of sacrifice). Wise, spiritual and enlightened men- through the ages that have understood these very simple and yet very subverted tenets. The darkside has done its work well...when "God's People" have no hope for the world we live in- HERE AND NOW....and only look foreward to Armageddon and to be raptured out o' here ASAP.
I believe that not only do Christians have something wonderful, meaningful and ultimate to offer the world if they can only get it right- but that American Indians have great insight and awesome spiritual vision on these matters as well. The two groups simply must work together and reconcile if either one truly wants to take their place at the celebration of life. All people- though they may not deserve God's blessing- are in fact invited to this celebration via the One.

Of course I have more to say - more that I have been blessed and guided to understand- but let this be the end of the beginning- I have spoken as the old chiefs used to say.

Starrider said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starrider said...

Read these passages with new eyes:

Colossians 1:9-29 Amplified Bible;

9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things--

10 That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, acquaintance, and recognition].

11 [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy,

12 Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God's holy people) in the Light.

13 [The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

14 In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins.

15[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation.

16 For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him.

17 And He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together).

18 He also is the Head of [His] body, the church; seeing He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent].

19 For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently.

20And God purposed that through by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross.

21 And although you at one time were estranged and alienated from Him and were of hostile attitude of mind in your wicked activities,

22 Yet now has [Christ, the Messiah] reconciled [you to God] in the body of His flesh through death, in order to present you holy and faultless and irreproachable in His [the Father's] presence.

23 [And this He will do] provided that you continue to stay with and in the faith [in Christ], well-grounded and settled and steadfast, not shifting or moving away from the hope [which rests on and is inspired by] the glad tidings (the Gospel), which you heard and which has been preached ]as being designed for and offered without restrictions] to every person under heaven, and of which [Gospel] I, Paul, became a minister.

24 [Even] now I rejoice in the midst of my sufferings on your behalf. And in my own person I am making up whatever is still lacking and remains to be completed [on our part] of Christ's afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church.

25 In it I became a minister in accordance with the divine [q]stewardship which was entrusted to me for you [as its object and for your benefit], to make the Word of God fully known [among you]--

26 The mystery of which was hidden for ages and generations [from angels and men], but is now revealed to His holy people (the saints),

27 To whom God was pleased to make known how great for the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ within and among you, the Hope of [realizing the] glory.

28 Him we preach and proclaim, warning and admonishing everyone and instructing everyone in all wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God), that we may present every person mature (full-grown, fully initiated, complete, and perfect) in Christ (the Anointed One).

29 For this I labor [unto weariness], striving with all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me.

Starrider said...

note; When I asserted that the Kingdom of "Heaven" is here and now- it would have been better said as "Kingdom of God" - meaning the reign of God through Christ..not the City of Heaven.

Also take note that much of the rift in understanding on this comes from a failure of distinction between World (meaning society, the socio-political structures, the domination system) and Earth (this planet, our physical home, the life sustaining network of ecosystems that God has gifted us with and given us stewardship over>See verses from colosians above. I have spoken>