“…the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are” (1 Cor. 1:28).
Dear People Who Keep Company with God,
There is no doubt the church in our nation no longer holds the place of honor and esteem we did even a few short years ago. We lament that, but perhaps we shouldn’t. It may be a gift from heaven.
We want to be like the early church, but we seem to approach the local church in ways that appear to conform more to the patterns and culture of the world than to the pattern we find in the Scriptures. The New Testament portrays the church as something peculiar and unusual.
After an explosive beginning, the early church wound up more on the margins of society. Rome oppressed them, and various religious and social groups rejected them. However, the kingdom of God thrived in this hostile environment. Over the next 300 years, the gospel spread all over the Roman Empire and beyond.
It was later in 381AD, after the Roman Emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of Rome, when the church became an accepted and influential organization that adopted many of the patterns of the Roman Empire.
That has hindered the church, but it hasn’t stopped God from moving. God uses faulty models and less than perfect humans. But Christ will return for a glorious church, one without all the corruptions and markings of the world.
Today, by choice or not, the church is slowly moving away from the center to the margins of society. The beauty of this is we will find Jesus there, and we will reconnect with our spiritual roots and our authentic identity. We will become the glorious church by sharing in the reputation of Jesus.
Like it or not, Jesus reputation was not sterling in His world. His conception, birth, and early childhood were not under the best of circumstances. He grew up in Nazareth, which further alienated Him in the eyes of the larger Jewish community. The character of the people of Nazareth was such that they were despised and condemned. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
There were even times that He was a homeless person. “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matt 8:20). The definitive declaration of Jesus’ marginality was His shameful death on the cross.
In the world’s eyes, Jesus was a marginal person who spent most of His time with broken people on the fringes of society: tax collectors, Gentiles, Samaritans, prostitutes, the poor, and the oppressed. That is good news because we are all broken people; we are the margins, the fringes.
The Holy Spirit is going to transform the church and like the early church, we will go out to the highways and byways loving and serving the least, last and lost. We will be so filled with the Spirit that we will boldly share our faith with signs and wonders following, serving the poor, caring for widows and orphans. That is, the church on the margins of society. That is, the future I see for the church.
Many Blessings, BW