Tuesday, August 15, 2006

more on membership

Folks are still adding their $.02 to the Membership post from a few days ago. I'm enjoying the input from all.

...just letting you know.

1 comment:

Mike Exum said...

My response to your response:

1) -Not as I see it. But it is not a social club, though it is deeply social to be sure. It is really the human body. The body of Christ. Look at AW's comment where she speaks of the disciples in Jerusalem waiting for the HS. I think that is a direct illusion to Gen 2:7. God has formed a body from the dust and now blows his Spirit into it bringing it to life.

The church is the human in the new creation. It is not you, not me, but us together as a group. And the purpose for this body is to bear God's image, see Gen 1:26, and thus rule creation. However, we are Christ's body. We are not our own, but His. His body is together, not fragmented. We eat together, Lords Supper being the pinnacle of that eating. Love feasts. As Brueggemann points out, eating together is a world changing event; it is no wonder that the American Civil Rights Movement of the 50's found one of its greatest fights at the lunch counter. Do we eat together or not? We must.

This is vital to being church in my estimation. There are other points of interest, but this is close to the primal position of image bearing as I see it. Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one! So to must we be.

Coming together means that we have to put up with each other. Staying apart means we can ignore aspects of each other we do not like. But coming together means dealing with each other, serving each other, and holding each other's interests as more important than our own. The self dies in that.

Also, He created them male and female. There is a spiritual element to sex, and a sexual element to spirit. I am not confusing the two, but there is overlap. And just as you share intimacy with your wife in each others presence, so it is with church. We need each other's self-sacrificial touch. It is vital to community, to being a body, and to bearing God's image.

2) -Yes. I believe so. However, I am formulating remarks for a comment on another of you posts that will explore prophecy a bit. And I think a more fleshed out answer here will be seen in that when I get to it.

3) - I think this is where the debate is, at least in my mind. I say yes. But perhaps my reasons are not as solid here.

I operate from a more experiential ground on this one. I believe that further fragmenting has been tried and found lacking. That is really what lies behind "denominationalism" (term not used derogatorially by me as by so many of my CoC friends).

I actually think that the reason divorce is so prevalent is because the church split 500 years ago. If the church splits, then it has no ground to point the finger at broken marriages. Yet it has. and then it looks stupid and then no one listens to judgment upon it.

But I digress...

Let's turn the tables on these questions and approach them from the other direction...

Church is supposed to be counter-cultural. That is a defining aspect of the church. The world hates, the church loves. The world seeks to please #1, the church seeks to serve others. The world tries to dodge suffering, the church embraces it. Counter-cultural.

The church needs to set the pace, the agenda for the world not the other way round. But it seems that the church is almost always the last to catch on. Look at issues like whether the earth is flat or round, or our treatment of minorities etc. Now the culture is fragmenting into the illusive self, and traditions are being chopped down right and left as people question what they mean, who they serve etc. Questioning is good, but I think our culture is too quick to settle for self-serving answers rather than self-sacrificing ones. And as more and more people stay home, or go the lake rather than the gatherings of Christ's body to glorify God together as a witness to the world of our love and commitment to Him and each other, now more and more people of faith are doing the same. We are almost imperceptibly the same as our non-christian neighbors.

So, the real revolution is in attending the gatherings, in my estimation.

However, I think you are on to something by questioning just what that gathering must look like. I think it needs to be challenged to be more than it has been in generations. It needs to be a place where street people are really valued as humans and friends. Meals should be shared with them, and The Meal should be shared with them. Lives should be intermingled from across deep dividing lines, both visible and invisible. And we need to get over our petty ideals about music or not, what time to meet, whether a group leads a song or one. That crap has got to go! Love must be shared instead! Counter the culture, and get it out of the church!

And about a million other things need to be said at this juncture, but I will quit there...

But that is my two bits in a $20 bill.

Many blessings...