Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Communal Life (Read if you are a Christian)

Here is an exert from a book I just finished called From Eternity to Here. I was going to try and sum it up but Frank Viola puts it so well I thought I would save myself the work...

This maybe one of the most ridiculously thought provoking passages on church and community that I have read to date. The Bible never gives us an exact blue print of what church is suppose to live up to, but here Frank Viola may have something.

Properly conceived, the church is a colony from heaven that has descended on earth to display the life of God's kingdom.

By its way of life, its values, and its interpersonal relationships, the church lives as a counterculture outpost of the future kingdom--a kingdom that will eventually fill the whole earth "as the waters cover the sea."

God's ultimate purpose is to reconcile the universe under the lordship of Jesus Christ (Col 1:20; Eph 1:10). As the community of the King, the church stands in the earth as the masterpiece of that reconciliation and the pilot project of the reconciled universe. In the church, therefor, the Jewish-Gentile barrier has been demolished, as well as all barriers of race, culture sex, etc. (Gal 3:28; Eph 2:16).
The church lives and acts as the new humanity on earth that reflects the community of the Godhead.

Thus when those in the world see a group of Christians from different cultures and races loving one another, caring for one another, meeting on another's needs, living against the current trends of this world that give allegiance to other gods instead of to the world's true Lord, Jesus Christ, they are watching the life of the future kingdom lived out on earth in the present. As Stanley Grenz once put it, "The church is the pioneer community. It points toward the future God has in store for his creation."

It is this "kingdom community" that turned the Roman Empire on its ear. Here was a people who possessed joy, who loved one another deeply, who made decisions by consensus, who handled their own problems, who married each other, who met one another's financial needs, and who buried on another.

This community was living in the presence of the future. It showed the world what the future kingdom of God will look like, when Jesus Christ will be running the entire show.

The church's allegiance was exclusively given to the new Caesar, the Lord Jesus, and she lived by His rule. As a result, the response by her pagan neighbors was, "Behold how they love one another!"

We live in a day when the Western church enshrined rugged individualism and independence. As such, many modern churches are not authentic communities that are embodying the family of God. Instead, they are institutional organizations that operate as a hybrid of General Motors and the Rotary Club.

The spiritual DNA of the church will always lead its members toward authentic, viable community. It will always lead its members toward authentic, viable community. It will always lead Christians to live a shared life through the Holy Spirit that expresses the life and values of Jesus Christ. In other words, it will live as the family of God.

In this way, the church becomes the visible image of the triune God. By sharing in the communion of the Father and the Son through the Holy Spirit, the church puts God's love on public display. It becomes his family in the earth in reality.

The family dimension of the church is not peripheral. It's central to the church's life and mission.

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