Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Concerning the Church - Part 2

By nature the church is those that are alive in Christ and the gathering and scattering in mission of those that are alive in Christ.

Craig Van Gelder writes this... The church lives in the world as a human enterprise, but it is also the called and the redeemed people of God. It is a people of God who are created by the Spirit to live as a missionary community. As such, the church is both a social organisation and a spiritual community. Empowered by the Spirit the church is God’s personal presence in the world. This makes the church as a spiritual community unique. The church exists as a social reality with human behaviours organised with human structures. But this human behaviour, through the redemptive work of God, is empowered by the Spirit. This is the duality inherent in the church’s nature.[1]

Or in other words, yes as soon as the church gathers, suddenly you need administration and structures and policies and everything else involved in social organisation but: the church is unique as a community empowered by the Spirit as God’s personal presence in the world.

Michael Gorman puts it like this...

The ekklesia is what God is up to in the world: recreating a people whose corporate life tells the world what the death and resurrection of the Messiah is all about. This people, the “Church,” lives the story, embodies the story, tells the story. It is the living exegesis of God’s master story of faith, love, power and hope.[2]

So by nature the church is a counter culture community that lives out of, and in witness to, the big story of the Gospel.

Empowered by the Spirit the church does not live according to the patterns or the ways of this world but rather, transformed by the renewing of the mind; lives, thinks, acts, functions in the world in line with the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus. In doing so the church community bears witness in word and in deed to the reality of the Good News of the Gospel and more specifically the reality of the resurrected Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. The church us to be a living explanation, a living example, a living interpretation of Good News of the Gospel, of the reality of the truth and power of the cross. 

Leslie Newbigin asks...

How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? What is the most effective vehicle through which a scandalous gospel can be communicated so that it is credible?

He answers...

I am suggesting that the only answer, the only way to explain the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live by it. No amount of brilliant argument can make it sound reasonable to the inhabitants of the reigning plausibility structure. That is why I am suggesting that the only possible explanation of the gospel is a congregation which believes it.[3]

And I add, lives it!

[1] Craig Van Gelder, The Essence of the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000), 25.
[2] Michael J. Gorman, Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Spirituality of the Cross. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001), 367.
[3] Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 227-232.

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