Thursday, July 3, 2008

Corporate Body-life

The quality of our corporate Body-life experience grabs my thinking often. What is it? Why is it? How does it reflect the Father's glory? How does it not? What is the responsibility and effect of a pastoral heart? What is the responsibility and effect of the believers who are no longer strangers and aliens, but as fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:19-22)

Is there a normative Christian Body-life?

We can study, identify and reason over church history and the fragmentation of the Body of Christ. Is this a work of God? Is it a function of falsehood within believers? I read voices that speak in both of these directions. Clearly experience points to a great expanse of diverse Christian expression within the denominational matrix. Yet, there is a common thread if we will choose to recognize such. We are growing together in a love which is nothing short of the reality of the Spirit of God. We can experience a mutual love for one another. Will we pursue love as normative or remain disenfranchised from one another over territorial beliefs?


Craig V. said...

As a pastor in a denomination, I think about this often. Here are some thoughts I've found helpful for me. Hopefully they'll be useful for others. First of all, the church (whether we think of all brothers and sisters or of a more local grouping) belongs to Jesus. He's the Lord, not me or any other leader or leaders. I'm foolish to protect my turf, because I have no turf. It all belongs to him. Since the church is the Lord's, it's accountable to him. For this reason, I can't just brush off the sad reality that we have so many denominations and divisions. We need to, in obedience to our Lord, do better. Even at its worst, however, it's his bride and so I need to be accepting and open to what Jesus is doing in and through his people.

ded said...

Thus, craig v., is not this a decision on your part to look beyond the tradition which is familiar to you?

That is, one does not have to disavow either those who are the brethren or the teachings of one's tradition to intend fellowship with all.

Craig V. said...

Yes, I think that's right. Whether we intend it or not, we have Christ in common (is that not what fellowship means?)

ded said...

My experience tells me that though some say, "We have Christ in common," the amount of willingness to fellowship and be loving toward those outside denominational markers is often meager at best. That is in marked contrast with what makes you such a blessing. You have extended fellowship to me solely on the basis of Jesus.

The piece of the puzzle I am building into a continuing line of thinking on the blog posts is that Christians have the freedom in the Spirit of Christ to extend Christ's love toward others of varied Christian streams. If that is true, what constrains our love?
Nothing except our will to be obedient.

Iris said...

Excellent questions and responses. I am blessed to read.

I think The Body at large does not yet understand that we do not create unity. We are one because of the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost. The High Priestly prayer of our Lord in John 17 was answered in that pouring.

Therefore, I am one with all who name the name of Christ. I think what holds us back is not realizing loving and receiving does not mean agreement. We (at least most of us) have struggled to be "right" in our lives and doctrine and in that proper struggle to hold pure and good doctrine, we have shunned those who differed with us and not as acceptable before the Lord. When we see that very struggle for "rightness" places us in a self-righteous place and that is striving to be right through our own understanding and not the grace of the Lord -- His provision not ours -- when we see that -- we are able to change our minds (repent) about one another and love as freely as He does.

ded said...

Hello Iris!

I think The Body at large does not yet understand that we do not create unity. We are one because of the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost. The High Priestly prayer of our Lord in John 17 was answered in that pouring.

I completely agree with this. Also, it is so simple that many overlook your observation that the pursuit of "right doctrine" becomes self-righteousness. Once recognized and repented from, love may flow.

Glory to God! Thanks for sharing.

Reed said...

Good stuff. Iris nailed it with the "right doctrine" lens. I seem to stay in trouble when it comes to this issue. I am a theology geek and poking holes in theological positions (especially my own) is an amusing pastime. It saddens me deeply that people choose their idea of right doctrine over right relationship. The root is pride and fear of being deceived by someone who believes differently (usually me). I have had many great friends who were splendid pagans and marveled at being able to have a Christian as a close friend who loved and did not condemn. Whereas other believers where unwilling to develop a friendship with someone of differing theological persuasion. I understand righteousness as right relationships not right doctrine. That whole love God, love your neighbor keeps most of the highbrow theological rhetoric (that I so enjoy) grounded and in check.