I heard an interesting comment by Regent College professor, Darrell Johnson, that got me thinking.
One of the themes in the “emerging church” dialogue seems to be about the marginalizing of the Church in North American society. Granted, as Christendom is fading, North American culture is becoming increasingly dissonant with Christianity. This is especially true when one places Washington D.C. or Hollywood as the symbolic cultural and philosophical center.
But God’s Story, which is the true Reality, seems to have a greater center. Paul writes in Colossians 1:16, “For by [Christ] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” From this perspective, Christ is the center of God’s Story and therefore, is the center of Reality. From that perspective, is the Church really marginalized? If not, then what are the implications of living from this greater Story?
It seems that although the infant Church was culturally marginalized, Jesus, Paul and the early leaders didn’t view that reality as the dominant theme in the Story they were ultimately living in. From their perspective, Jesus was climaxing both creation’s history as human beings and Israel’s history as God’s people. Jesus’ resurrection was the first day of the New Creation. Those who gave their allegiance to Jesus as his apprentices and ambassadors were now part of a new humanity, continuing his incarnation. And as they formed communities, they became colonies of new humanity, both embodying and anticipating God’s future New Creation as it breaks into the Old.
It may just be me, but I think there’s a lot to unpack regarding living in the tension of Jesus (and by association the Church) being the Center of God’s Story and the Church being culturally marginalized.