Thursday, October 13, 2016

on Lone Ranger Christians, the Church, and the Mystery of Ephesians 2-3

A lot of people suppose that they can be "Lone Ranger" Christians-- faith and practice (of some sort) with little or no connection to Christian community. This is practically limited and biblically incoherent for a number of reasons.

On FB the other day, someone asked me about the importance of robust involvement with the local church and the Church-- as opposed to a merely individual salvation and a privatized faith. I replied that there are verses and more sophisticated cases for this claim. One of the latter appears in Ephesians 2-3, which I'm preparing to teach on Sunday. A great quote from John Stott (127-129):

“...the center of God’s eternal-historical plan is Jesus Christ, together with his redeemed and reconciled people…it is evident from Ephesians 3 that the full gospel concerns both Christ and the ‘mystery of Christ’…not only to save sinners like me…but also to adopt us into God’s family; not only to reconcile us to God but also to reconcile us to one another…The gospel is good news of a new society as well as of a new life…If the Church is central to God’s purpose as seen in both history and the gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives…How dare we push to the circumference what God has placed at the center?”

Some of the failure here is due to "personal problems"-- aspects of personality that get in the way of a person pursuing authentic community. But the larger issue is surely a lack of vision: if one doesn't understand (or hasn't even heard) this part of Christianity, then it's less likely to be pursued. Another large issue is busyness-- or to be more precise, distorted priorities. I could do it easily enough-- lacking the problems you note-- but simply choose not to make the investment, given my perceptions of this and other opportunities.

This is also something of a barometer for whether one is a Christian or not. In fielding questions about the justice of Heaven and Hell, it's common to observe that if one doesn't want to be near to God now, why would one want to do a more concentrated version of that for eternity. In this context, if you don't want to be involved with the Church and the church today, are you sure that you're set up to do that in Heaven?


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