I’ve been slowly making my way through David Fitch’s, The Great Giveaway. I mean sloooowwwwly. I’ve been reading a few books simultaneously, so I’m jumping from book to book and posting on Fitch’s book as quotes or ideas trigger thoughts.
So if you’re interested in a more systematic and indepth synopsis, there are a couple of blogs to visit. One that I’ve mentioned before is Scot McKnight’s blog-series on the book. Another one worth visiting is Len Hjarlmarson’s blog-series on the book, which began last week.
Any way, I read a great paragraph from Fitch’s book a couple of days ago and wanted to post it here:
“The church is much more than the machinery that produces decisions for Christ. It is the social space, under his lordship where the Holy Spirit works to build up believers and equip the saints (Ephesians 4). It is the social foretaste of his reign where God is taking the rest of the world. It is spatial because we are a people ‘called out’ from the world to be the ecclesia. Each church is a body of Christ, his physicality in the world, so to speak, where he is the head. And things happen here under his lordship that can happen nowhere else. The powers of his salvation are set loose in his body through the mutual participation of its members through the gifts before the watching world. IT is this new society’s life that calls the world to an awareness of their lostness and their separation from God. Out of this new life, the call to a decision for Christ, to repentance from sin and new life in Christ can actually make sense to those who are lost without Christ.”
Dang! That’s good stuff. I love the idea that the local faith-community is “the social foretaste of God’s reign.” Our lives together as a community of Christ-apprentices should be a foretaste of the New Creation.
When I read that, it doesn’t communicate the popular idea of community in which everyone has “lovey-dovey warm fuzzies” for one another. Rather, it’s a community that joins the resurrected Jesus in participating in God’s redemption of the entire earth through forgiveness and servanthood. That’s the good news of Jesus’ kingdom message — enter a new life where God is king and live in his redemptive reign by becoming people who can actually help fix the mess we have made of all aspects of life on this earth. All facets of our daily lives should point to the reality of God’s reign.
And our communal lives as local faith-communities should have specific expressions of what God’s reign looks like in a society — speaking truthfully and lovingly to one another, resolving conflict and forgiving one another, making discerning decisions together, sharing the Spirit’s gifts among each other, confessing our sins to one another, praying for the sick, worshipping together and anticipating God’s full reign around the Lord’s Table.
Fitch states, “Activities such as these define the church as Christ’s body. They can happen here in a way like nowhere else.”