Chapter 6: What must we be? The Call to the Church
Absolutely for sure I'll agree with Bishop Newbigin's describing the church's call, "to become corporately a sign, instrument, and foretaste of that sovereignty of the one true and living God over all nature, all nations, and all human lives." I could not have said it any better: the exhibition of the Kingdom of God to the world!
In Bishop Newbigin's clearly reminding us Jesus sends us and the Holy Spirit calls us into all the world, I found a warning for myself and the way I usually preach from the Bible and teach from the Bible emphasizing Jesus' birth on society's margins and his crucifixion outside the city gates between society's outcasts, his frequently associating with "others" and the not-like-us…
Yesterday [writing this during Summer of 2003] I went into a local retail store and they had tons of Christmas stuff, mostly decorating and gifting paraphernalia and ephemera, out for sale...and yesterday was August 7!!!!!
Rick G., who was a regular on our book threads, made another devastating observation:
Especially when I consider the alternative our culture is generating, in which upper middle class teens exclaim they will just die if they don't get their Tommy Hilfiger outfits (and mean it) and kids in the ghetto do die over Tommy Hilfiger outfits, in which people embrace consumer goods as THE source of their identity nowadays (and not because they've been brainwashed, but perhaps because we've failed…and isn't it a curious fact that all the original ad firm founders were preacher's kids!?).I responded: "Perhaps because we've failed." Possibly so. As Christians and as the Church too often we try to find and live as if our identity found in something external to us and evident to others rather than in our being found "In Christ" - which in the world's terms essentially is invisible. The mayor (for a while) of the city I lived in (for a while) had an exceptionally conspicuously consumptive personal lifestyle and as mayor she advocated tons of corporate favoritism, often at the expense of her less-affluent constituency. Someone said to me, "She [the mayor] should know better: she's a PK!" People sometimes tell me I must be "a recent convert" because of my passion for the gospel. I can take that as compliment or as suggesting that people who've been in the church a long time or esp those who are "hereditary Christians" either have lost any fervor they'd ever had or maybe never had any?!