Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Some Thoughts On The Church, Part III

There is another way to understand and participate in the life and work of the church... and we might think of this way as proceeding along a set of train tracks.

One rail is loving and worshiping God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.  The other rail, of course, is loving and serving your neighbor as you yourself would want to be loved and served (Luke 10.27).

These separate but united rails (or tracks) of the church's life are witnessed every Lord's Day morning, in the opening and closing rituals of worship.

In the Call to Worship, the church is called out of the world, that it might worship God together, as one body.  Word, sacrament, song, confession, prayer, giving, communion, sermon, repentance, the assurance of the gospel, fellowship, etc... We answer this sacred call and come together in one assembly, loving and worshiping God.

But in the Benediction, the church is sent back out into the world, bearing God's blessing and God's Name, that we might lay down our lives as the salt and light of this world, in witness and service.

In the one image we see the holiness of the church—we are the ones who have been "called out" from the world, to belong to God and worship him.

In the other image we see the apostolic nature of the church—we are the ones who have also been "sent out" on God's mission in this world.

Putting both images together, we might speak of what some have called the "holy worldliness" of Christ's church.

We are called to be morally distinct and spiritually separate from the world:  holy.

But we are simultaneously called to be absolutely immersed in the life of the world: worldly.

As some would say, "in the world, but not of the world."  As others would say, "faithful presence."

If you want to meditate on the meaning of all this by contemplating a strong and clear and beautiful picture of holy worldliness... (of being in the world, but not of the world—of faithful presence)... God has certainly given us one.

Any guesses as to whom it might be?

We'll start with him next time...

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