Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Relational Ethics Part 5
From the Father
The Trinitarian testimony in the New Testament also gives ample footing for arguing for a relational ethic. Jesus repeatedly gives credit to His Father for both His power and His teaching. It is perhaps no more evident than in Matthew 11:25a-27 where Jesus states, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” So we see that it is through the giving of the Father that the work of Christ is established. Thus we find Jesus urging us to “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This perfection is empowered by the one who has been perfect from the beginning. We can therefore follow in the footsteps of perfection only through our relationship to the Father through Christ.
High Christological Ethic
We have already stated that New Testament ethics, in a post-modern context, should be driven relationally. We, as a community, approach the text grounded in the reality of Christ, His birth, life, death, resurrection, and proceed to embody its teachings. Willi Marxsen speaks of Jesus as the “inside out turner.” It is clear to Marxsen that the voices represented in the New Testament have been profoundly changed by the union of Christ and themselves. He states, “It is now clear that we can never ignore the people who are talking. These people turned inside out are people to whom something has happened through the work of Jesus. And what happened to them is nothing less than what is supposed to happen through them. Thus Christian ethics is an aspect of Christology.” So we find that New Testament ethics is by nature Christological. It is through the saving relationship of Jesus in our lives that we in turn become intrinsically motivated to follow the Father’s will. Jesus also acts as our ultimate ethical witness, and through Him with the help of the Spirit we truly can say, “Not what I will, but what you will.”