In, Not of The Church

I’m at my mountain-cabin-writing-getaway (courtesy of Joe and Judy). I’m writing my next book and today I’ve spent a good deal of time, skimming and reviewing what other writers who are Christian have said about the subject of Christian presence in the world. As I do in all my work, one of the issues I will deal with in this next book is our calling to be a loving, transforming presence in the world.

Today while reading a cluster of emergent church, futurist writers something occurred to me that is quite basic, but may be useful to you.
People commonly remind us that we are called to be “in the world, but not of the world” and this is true. Today after reading all these ecclesiological gurus I realized that for me, throughout my entire life as a follower of Jesus, it has been equally important to be “in the church, but not of it.”

By this I mean that just as culture is the product of fallen humans, so the church is tainted by the presence of flawed humans like you and me. The Greek philosopher Epictetus advised ” spiritual progress requires us to highlight what is essential and to disregard everything else as trivial and unworthy of our attention. Missional church people (old paradigm and new) often find it difficult to discern what is essential. It has always been so. Walking with the risen Lord, Peter squandered his precious remaining time with Jesus who was about to ascend into heaven with a question about John’s future in the kingdom. Jesus said, what is that to you? Follow me!

We are quick to judge those who are diverted by popular culture’s superficialities, we need also to be aware of the myriad of ways the church can divert us from our essential calling to seek, know, love and follow Jesus and then to glorify God by becoming a full human being spiritually, intellectually and creatively in daily life.

Jesus said the “gates of hell” will not prevail against the church; the church is his bride and body and I cannot survive without this company of friends, but just as I must be discerning in the culture, so must I be discerning in the church. I have often said the biggest challenge for the next generation is an ecclesiological one. I stand by that statement and pray that God’s people, together, young and old, will hear the voice of and follow the Great Shepherd into what will be a different future. The times are changing. God help us.

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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