Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Some Thoughts On The Church, Part V

So... putting these last four posts together & coming up with some points of application or discussion:

  • Jesus has sent his church out into the world, in the same way that He Himself was sent out into the world by his Father.
  • He entered into this world; he invaded this world.  He did not seek to avoid this world or its messiness.  Part of what that means for us is seeking to enter into the lives of others... not avoiding them or their messiness.  Always remember: Jesus entered into our mess with us!
  • When was the last time we took the time to enter into someone's misunderstanding of the gospel?  When was the last time we entered into someone's trial or affliction or doubt or pain or tears or questions or loneliness with them?  
  • Of course, one reason we don't tend to do that very faithfully or very much is because it would be costly and sacrificial for us.  That's exactly what it was like for Jesus too.
  • And yet, he never, never, never entered into the world at the expense of his own holiness.  And never, never, never should we.  For example, it does not bring any glory to God when a Christian dates an unbeliever in order to bear a witness to them.  We are called to be holy, as he is holy.  If Jesus really is the center of our affections, we won't fall into the trap of forfeiting faithfulness for any "missional" rationalization.
  • To grow into this well, we need to look squarely at the reality that the church has normally had a difficult time with this.  We tend to either relinquish and neglect the mission in order to protect our own sense of being religious, by withdrawing from the world.  Or we tend to stray away from the holiness of our faith, becoming more and more conformed to this world, under the guise of being missional.
  • Faithful Presence.  Holy Worldliness.  In the World, but not of the World.  As the Father sent Jesus into the world, so Jesus has sent his church into the world.
  • If we lose our holiness, the church has nothing distinctive to say.  We are compromised.
  • If we are not living deeply in the world, being "present" with our neighbors, entering into their life and suffering with them, we have no one to serve.  We are so isolated, our gospel witness is absent.
  • Let us think on these things... 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Some Thoughts On The Church, Part IV

"Holy Worldliness."
"In the world, but not of the world."
"Faithful Presence."  

These are some of the ways we were thinking about the calling and nature of the church last time, and we ended that reflection by preparing ourselves to see a strong and clear and beautiful picture of this calling and nature, in the person of Jesus Christ.

After all... who demonstrated more "holy worldliness" than Jesus?  Who showed himself to be more "in the world, but not of the world" than Jesus?  Who exhibited a more "faithful presence" in this world than Jesus?

And if the church really is "the body of Christ" in this world, then the Christ-likeness of the church in these matters... matters.

Consider this description of Jesus our Lord, from John Stott:
"Nobody has ever exhibited the meaning of 'holy worldliness' better than our Lord Jesus Christ himself.  His incarnation is the perfect embodiment of it.  On the one hand he came to us in our world, and assumed the full reality of our humanness.  He made himself one with us in our frailty, and exposed himself to our temptations.  He fraternized with the common people, and they flocked round him eagerly.  He welcomed everybody and shunned nobody.  He identified himself with our sorrows, our sins and our death.  On the other hand, in mixing freely with people like us, he never sacrificed, or even for one moment compromised, his own unique identity.  His was the perfection of 'holy worldliness.'"
This is what God the Father "sent" Jesus into the world to be.

And now, this is what Jesus is sending the church into the world to be...

"As you sent me into the world,
so I have sent them into the world."
John 17.18

"Jesus said to them again,
'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me,
even so I am sending you.'”
John 20.21