Why “Huper?”

My blog’s domain name has in it the word, “huper“.

On behalf of” is the phrase used over and over in the NT to mark the “proxy-exchange” taking place there.

The 2 Corinthians 5:15 testimony marks the high point of it:

…and he died [huper] on-behalf-of all

so that the ones living would live no more for themselves,

but for him who died and was raised [huper] on-behalf-of them.”

Over and over again, huper is used [1] when dealing with the most critical matters done for us through The Son. It is the promethean Greek preposition that carries the full scope of “grace”.

(See samples, all as taken from the RSV/IntGE):
“…while yet sinners, Christ died on-our-behalf.” (Rom. 5:6ff.);
“…made to be sin on-our-behalf…“ (2 Cor. 5:21);
“… a curse on-our-behalf …” (Gal. 3:13);
“…so that by the grace of God he might taste death on-behalf-of everyone.” (Hebrews 2:9)

But , correspondingly, the same expression is called on to note “the Kingdom life-pattern” designed for the People of God—”on-behalf-of” one another, on-behalf-of the LORD and on-behalf-of his enterprise.

“…worthy to suffer shame on-behalf-of His Name”. (Acts 5:41);
“…the members of the Body to have the same care on-behalf-of each other.” (1 Cor. 12:25);
“…to fill up in my own flesh the afflictions lacking of Christ on-behalf-of the Body.” (Col. 1:24)


With the genitive, 134 times, mostly with regard to God’s activity; op. cit., J.B.Smith’ss Greek-English Concordance, 5128a.



“Community-organizer” is not the trivial thing it’s being made. (Watch the curve.) “. . . Just a ‘community-organizer'” is like saying, “. . . just a housewife.” But “community-organization” involves both a vision and a strategy. A mode-of-operating. It is significant enough that Hillary Clinton did her Harvard degree-paper on “Community-Organization”—namely, on Saul Alinsky, the political-change, community-organizermaster!

We knew Alinsky’s name while Elma and I were in inner-city Detroit in the ’60s and ’70s, as part of our commitment to change in the interracial community of that period. Alinsky was the radical Marxist trainer of community organizers, effective and a bit scary, but we weren’t quite sure why “scary” . . .

We were living post-Riot by then. But wounds of the Detroit were far from being healed. I’d helped in pulling together an organization of 36 churches—black / white/Catholic/Protestant—on Detroit’s East Sector: CESSA (“Churches on the EastSide for Social Action”). We took steps to address the needs in a more radical fashion. As the CESSA Board—of which I was a part, and of which [the to-be-Bishop] Woodie White was “chairman”—we interviewed to hire a community organizer, and brought one in from ChicagoFrank Ditto. Ditto’s tactics proceeded to polarize our CESSA community. He recruited an honor guard of young blacks, bereted, in uniform and with mock rifles, to march into each subsequent large CESSA Community meeting and to stand guard around the edges of the room. Disconcerting maybe, but not undoing; for we knew he was attempting to build Black Pride.

But his news-sheet rhetoric and subsequent methodology involved playing one against another. His labeling of some of our adult, black CESSA leadership as ““Uncle Toms” opened the rift. Some of the white liberal suburbanites, enchanted with Ditto’smystique, joined Ditto in alienating that significant inner-city leadership; and with that happening, the project dissolved. In name, CESSA continued for maybe a year or so after that, but mostly with outside funding and the churches once again scattered.

I don’t recall if Ditto was “Alinsky-organization trained”, but I know the techniques to be classic Marxist—to play to discontent, stir it, identify “an enemy”—and thus, build a power-base for themselves. It offers itself to ambitious (and idealistic) people as a political technique, anywhere, any time, any party.


New Debate: Topic

We often hear America described as: “the great Experiment in Freedom”.

Some would say that that “experiment” is now in serious danger of failing. That we’ve failed to know the difference between “freedom” and “license”. (The “envelope” is always getting pushed further.)

Do we have any basis for knowing the difference between the two, so that “The Experiment” can avoid chaos and the military dictatorship resulting?

I propose a new and needed National Forum, a debate to be scheduled in high schools and colleges and (wouldn’t it be great) for candidates to national public office.

RESOLVED: “The American Experiment in Freedom is in danger.”
a) Having no bounds to “Freedom” will produce the greatest society of human beings every imagined. b) Having no bound to “Freedom” will lead to a totalitarian state in which most freedoms we honor will be abolished.


Good News Dynamic

From my study of “khesed”, I note the parallel ways that JESUS and PAUL speak of the “good news”. JESUS almost never uses the word, grace (4x); rather, his focus is on “the Kingdom of Heaven”. Paul seldom talks of the Kingdom of Heaven, but of the dynamic of “grace” (134x), i.e., as Jesus’ resurrection-power to break us free–from slavery to sin, from satan, and from flesh’s downward pull–with the welcome restoration to relationship with His Father, and to the approval and glory for which we were made.

JESUS (over 200x)speaks of the Kingdom-Invasion of this rebel world, bringing the “blessings” of deliverance from those same forces that take us captive, and with it, LIFE, and restoration to Sonship, Family, and Inheritance. “Kingdom” and “grace” both speak of God’s saving power for us, his saving purpose for us, and his saving Presence. “Thus, they are almost interchangeable in what they present to us, and might very well be studied together.


Struggling with Paul’s “Galatians” Again

“Righteousness” is the big concern. But the word’s not in our vocabulary–not part of our daily conversation. So we go round and round with the Apostle Paul trying to get our arms around his struggle.

Galatians 2:16 ff. It’s “God’s APPROVAL” that Paul longs for–I as well. (Sons need it from their dads. We all need it from the Significant Authorities in our lives.) Paul is absolutely convinced that that APPROVAL comes in no way from our deserving, but only at God’s initiative: “grace”. We agree. And Paul’s heated polemic is against anything at all minimalizing the absolute agreement of that.

Gal. 2:18. So, he is not about to set up the same old system of “merit/demerit” for trying to get God’s approval. That would just re-define him as “a law-breaker” in his own eyes and throw him into the same old quandry. (V. 19) But, Paul say, it’s through that very system that he died to that system. (He couldn’t stand anymore to live in that system. Figure: our way out was cinched by Jesus’ “dying as our proxy” .) Our identification is now totally IN JESUS, no longer in the merit/demerit system. Now, “co-crucified with him”, our reality is: “I’m a dead man, and my life is hidden with God in Christ Jesus”.



Courting Dialogue

By accident (I say, knowing better), I ran into The Complete Jewish Bible. I was intrigued at its use of the word “grace” in all the places in the Psalms where we ordinarily see that wonderful expression, “steadfast love” or “loving kindness”. I had already become troubled by the careless way people threw around the grace-word. So began the study that took me into the research of that other wonderful word which my family had already taken to ourselves. For “KHESED”–as we spell it—is middle name of our daughter (who herself is a very lovely person, now grown up and mother of three of our grandsons).
I’ve called these, as I was writing them, my “Khesed Papers”; for they were variously written, at random and around the topic. Even now as I move to draw them together for printing, I see them as involving several aspects of the larger question that has concerned others with me—about “Grace”.
The research into khesed took me into some surprising discoveries that I can only call “lost dimensions of grace”—initially, its role in near-Eastern hospitality; and from there, its integral connection with covenant and the missionary promise given to Abraham, regarding “The Tribes of the Earth”. Then, in tracing the translations from Hebrew to Greek to Latin, I saw that there has been a “trouble with Grace” that long pre-dates our present delimited and (often) distorted use of it. It is a serious trouble that cuts at the very heart of God’s purpose regarding the world He loves so much and—more pointedly—holds implications for the Western Church regarding our peoplehood—namely, our spirituality, our church-life, and the way in which we merchandize the Gospel.
The implications, I’m trusting, will stir some dialogue, and likely some upset. The dialogue is what I hope for. As for upset—stories surrounding the forming of the Nicene Creed give us some encouragement, i.e., truth regarding the Evangel has always required the body of believers to do important grappling with it.
In the years following the Nicene Creed’s signing, controversy centered around Athanasius (293-373 A.D.), the main protagonist in the fight for affirming the full humanity of Christ (“fully God, fully man”). A brilliant young man in the early Church—he was only in his 20s when he was appointed Bishop of Alexandria, Egypt—he spent twenty of his next forty-some years as bishop, in exile, running and contending for his life. Condemned by fellow bishops who’d previously voted with him, banished by emperors, fugitive and with a reward on his head, he somehow lived, stood faithful, and prevailed. The much-disputed Nicene creedal statement stands as testimony to Athanasius’ perseverance—as well as to the startling working of the “God’s grace”.
For the LORD apparently uses such controversies to sharpen—even as with these early creeds, Apostolic and Nicene. He uses the ongoing dialogue of councils and symposiums, research and reportings, journals and critical reviews, updated translations and Bible studies—all—to sharpen the Church’s testimony and its ability with its gospel. God uses and purposes to use, as said from the beginning, a People as partners-in- salvation (Genesis 12:3ff.).
So I hope for renewed dialogue connecting “grace and mission”, covenant-community and calling. This paper is offered as an attempt to recover that which Oral Tradition for centuries has lost, with trust that the LORD JESUS can lay hold of his Bride and bring her to the point where she can serve him well—now in these crucial last days—and prepare her garments as the spotless Bride of his desire.


Need for Closing Ranks

Jesus calls for initiative from his disciples. It is one thing to bemoan scandalous news-headlines and to regret situations close to home. It’s quite another to initiate action; but that’s what he calls for:
“Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him;
And if he repents, forgive him . . .” (Luke 17:1-3, NASB)
At first, Jesus had only opened the scope to disciples amongst themselves/ourselves. He orders us then—with authority accompanying it—to exercise release amongst ourselves.
But that’s scary. It’s messy. To confront one another; and (if/when there’s repentance) to release each other—“forgive him.” But that’s exactly what is called for in covenant-community; in families; in marriages. (See chapter 15.) This releasing, as we know, is even more difficult when the offense happens again and again—a pattern (“. . seven times a day . . ” Luke 17:1-4). To confront sinful patterns—even among close friends—requires chutzpah, especially among any of us trying to come out of addictive, hedonistic life-styles.
Elaborating then further on the importance of restoration, Jesus lists steps to help us release each other out of such situations, and with it gave his people specific authority to discipline and dis-fellowship—whenever that becomes necessary for restoration (Matt. 18:15-18), Practically, that means, for one thing, the need for congregations to learn to close ranks with one another—to network together—so that those under discipline can’t run from place to place.
(Taken from chapter 7, “Grace, as Delegated Authority”.)


Colossians 1:24 ff. and Marriage

Coloss. 1:24. What a strange report this is from the Apostle Paul—as if Christ’s sufferings wasn’t sufficient on our behalf! and that he, Paul, is glad to supplement what’s lacking in it. Such self-aggrandizement! But is it that? For in his offering up his own suffering “on-behalf-of” Christ’s Body in the world, Paul is opening up another dimension of our life in Christ. He’s recognizing our vital connection to each other whether we like it or not.
Surely there’s no lack in Jesus’ suffering . . . . Vertically— between us and God—he has accomplished everything needed to undo the estrangement.
But there’s apparently a severe lacking in another important dimension: the horizontal—the human level amongst us of the Body of Christ. As to our “suffering”, it’s not necessarily persecution Paul has in mind—though, that too may come in its own time. But the lacking, the constant place of incompleteness, is with ourselves who strategically represent the Name of Christ to the world.
So, there is the constant challenge to mature us as a Kingdom people, to shape us, grow us up—for the distinctiveness (“holiness”) that sets us apart. And with it goes a suffering that contributes to the building up of Christ’s Body on this earth.
There are all the little afflictions of learning to live together as Kingdom brothers and sisters on earth. In marriage, in mission community and work teams—there is the pain that comes of living closely, of abiding each other’s oddities; the pain of loving deeply and faithfully; and of receiving the wounds that only someone so close and so loved can wield, of sticking with each other through the resultant stress and frustration.
All those lacks—as with Paul’s offering up the multitude of grievances he put up with, the physical hardships and the anguish for the sake of his churches—all call from us “an offering of suffering”.
In marriages, there is lots of pain (as well as its obvious joy) from all kinds of offenses, big and little—cumulative offense.
But Christians are running from the pain, almost at a greater rate (says BARNA) than our secular counterparts. It’s as though we don’t know about the “dying in order to live”, and the Biblical call to “live on-behalf-of one another”. That’s not in the marriage preparation, and it’s not in our expectations. But we’re meant to learn not only to forgive, to forbear, and let go of stuff. We’re to learn—as Catholics have learned to say (and some of them, to do): “Offer it up to God”.
We, in our marriages and families and church life, are somehow to offer up our “afflictions”, knowing that as we do so, it’s received on-behalf-of the building up of Christ’s beloved Kingdom-People on the earth.
Often, little separations—respites—are necessary in a marriage (and I mean beyond the obvious getting away from physical abuse). Those times are important, primarily to get relief when the stress gets too overwhelming, as well as to gain some perspective in a situation. They re important moreso as time to figure out our own fault in the situation, and also to come to believe the Word so as to learn to do as Paul was learning to do—on-behalf-of the People of God at large.
Coloss. 1:26 -28. There’s a mystery meant to be revealed through us in all this. A glory. “The hope” of glory is meant to be seen in us, and seen in our life together. Judeo-Christian marriage is like the dam for a beautiful reservoir. It is the sustaining wall for His ordering of FAMILY. It is there as reflection pool for the breadth and width and depth of God’s faithful love, reflecting His own self-giving Love, wooing and winning at great cost the love of His beloved.
Evangelical Christians have sadly become major breaks in the wall, allowing the reservoir to go crashing into the canyon below. A lovely falls maybe—wild, dramatic, and spectacular to exclaim over—but leaving a dry and desolate waste, where was meant to be a thing of beauty and glory to its Creator.
Each of us has the ongoing decision to make—in our marriage, and in our work teams—as to whether “it’s all about us, and how bad we feel, how much we hurt”; or whether we can trust God to use even OUR pain as we deliberately trustingly offer it, to build the beauty and reality of His Body in the world, reflection here of His Glory.