Friday, February 04, 2005

Called Out Community

My friends Milton Stanley and Buzz Trexler have been discussing the nature of the church community, and how our evangelism is more than just hurling invectives at the "lost" outside the community of Christ. Good word brothers! Thanks!

Some writers like Ian Bradley have suggested, we are building outposts of heaven. Our churches gather in good times and bad. We gather in birth and death; in joy and sadness; and sometimes in fear and trembling. We gather to eat, to argue, to pray, to cry, to hope, to yearn, to love. We may do other things but one thing we are compelled to do is gather.

And in gathering we become, as Robert Bellah has reminded us, a "community of memory." But not simply a sentimental common memory like the "good old days." This memory is a real and living Presence. We gather in the living and present memory of our Lord. By His gentle and sometimes fiery grace, the rhythms of our lives harmonize in a symphony of love shining heaven's light into this darkened world.

Augustine puts it differently. He says that we are a community of friends. This community is ever expanding transforming society into a world a friends who gather in the presence of the ever living Savior, Redeemer and Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The inward outward movement of community is sometimes difficult to manage. We may become too inward losing sight of those outside the community, or we may become to outword focusing on the lost and dying world but losing sight of the called out community. This tension between building a loving community and reaching out beyond loving community is a dynamic tension that is always moving.

And as Chesterton points out that is one more beauty of our faith built on a cross of two planes: the horizontal and vertical. These intersecting planes remind us again and again of the wondrous paradoxical tensions of walking and living by faith.


Milton Stanley said...

As usual, you bring a well-informed, thoughtful perspective to your blog. I've linked to this article from Transforming Sermons. Peace.

PaPa said...

Word .....
Dude can you do something about the blue highlites , they are hard to see .