How to be the church? That is the question, though, come to think of it, such a question can seem pointless. After all, our lives are pretty settled. Most of us have carved out an existence that works in most respects. The community we live in does cause irritations from time to time, but on the whole life is good.
We hear of wars and rumors of wars from across the oceans, terrible and dark things that, if we were to stop and think about them, would make us shudder.
We see civil unrest in other places throughout our own country and we wonder. What kind of world are we becoming? What kind of society? Though we’re not sure how, we hope things will turn out for the best.
We take comfort in our church life, for it is indeed a place of God and friendship, where goodness is readily found. But what of its future? Again, it is our hope that things will turn out for the best.
But what if our times demand renewed clarity of purpose? Is our world is moving in a direction none of us has ever seen before? Can we be certain things will work out as they have in the past? What must we do to insure a viable future for our children and grandchildren? How must the church redefine its purpose, as each generation must?
In Bible Study today, I commented on how we mainliners take great consolation in proudly defining ourselves as against fundamentalism. Beyond that, though, we’re hard pressed to say what we’ve for (rather than against).
As I see it, our society and world is hungering for someone to define life in a way that is life-giving, that reveals the kind of agape love Jesus lived and taught. Such means embracing some things while rejecting others, just as any thinking being does moment by moment and on a daily basis. There are some thing we know are bad for us even as we agree to other things that will bring about the good.
For about a hundred years or so, the mainline churches have shied away from the ancient biblical story and its resultant dogma, creeds, and theological reflection. Instead we sought to be a handmaiden to the culture as it vainly attempts to create a secular paradise here on earth. We wouldn’t think of embarrassing others with the gospel story.
But embracing the culture has not brought us to the Promised Land. If anything, it’s taken us farther afield. An acculturated Christianity invariably loses its salt. But the Good News brings ushers forth life.
Grace and peace,
Thomas C. Leinbach, Pastor