Musings on the Church as it stands, Part I

This is post #1 of a series regarding my own musings on the Church, evangelism, and Christian culture. To begin, I’d like to simply post a passage from Paul Marshall’s book “Thine is the Kingdom”, because it is among the many I have read today that sparked an interest in my mind.

I’ll be discussing ideas from theologians such as Lesslie Newbigin, Stanley Hauerwas, and other respected minds as I try to express my own personal frustrations. In all that I will write, please understand that I am by NO means exempt from these things. I am just as much at fault for being too wrapped up in “Christian culture” and secluding myself from the realities of the world (I attend a Christian university, which tends to be a “bubble” of sorts). These are just my musings, ponderings, my journey to discover how to be a Christian in a post-modern world.

As always, I’d love for this to become a “conversation”, and it is open for comments. I’d love to dialogue about these issues, as they are becoming increasingly important. It seems to me that the church (using the term “Church” as a general statement–I realize that there are exceptions, of course) is becoming more separated from the world as time goes by. In brief, I believe that when the Bible mentions being in the world but not of the world, it doesn’t mean to create our own “religious club.” Rather, I think that we should be following Christ’s example in reaching out to the world, meeting them where they are, meeting their needs…but most importantly, just loving them. Not trying to change them, not trying to push our beliefs on them…just loving them, and allowing Christ to transform their lives as He desires.

So here is the passage from Paul Marshall…

“Our task as Christians is, in principle, to do everything in a Christian way that can be done by a human being—from what we eat when we get up in the morning (if we have anything to eat) to what clothes we put on, to how we get to work (if we have any work), to what we work at, making what, for how much, in what sort of conditions, to how we vote, how we engage in research, how we understand the news, how we relax, what we do with and for the poor, and so on throughout the livelong day. In all these activities we are called to be new creatures taking our place as the stewards of God’s world, being servants of our neighbor and proclaimers of the good news of Jesus Christ. In all of them we are to learn what God calls us to do or, in other words, to see how redemption in Jesus Christ can bring healing and redirection. We are to proclaim and to show in our lives that Christ is Lord over every part of life. Just as every part of life is affected by human sin, so all parts of life can be renewed and redeemed by Jesus Christ. That is our only solid hope for families, factories or politics.

True Christian social action is always evangelistic work, for no area of life is ‘neutral’, supposedly immune from the effects of sin and the reach of redemption. We do not act merely on the basis of Christian ‘principles’ or ‘morality’, we are to act as witness to Jesus Christ. All areas of life must be linked to new life in Jesus Christ. In turn, true Christian evangelism is always social action because it lives and proclaims what is good news in each area of life.

Through the gospel God calls a new nation, a new people, a new humankind into being. As men and women turn to Jesus Christ in real, concrete, repentance from sin and, by grace through faith, are restored in God’s favor, they begin to live out the healing and restoration of Christ’s redemption and take up their Christian responsibility for the direction of human life and culture. Evangelism is, in a way, the recruiting process for this life whereby people come ‘on board’ for service to God’s kingdom. Evangelism calls people to repentance and to a restored and renewed love for God and, through that love, to a new life of service to our neighbors. This is the Christian life.”

Paul Marshall, Thine is the Kingdom, p. 37-38.

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