The question this week deals with the mission of the church –
My first thought is to merely answer ‘The Book of Ephesians;’ however, I suspect that that particular answer would not suffice. The Church of Jesus Christ is the focal point of the New Creation, the continuing body of Christ in this world. It is the place where Christ is glorified, and his victory over the powers, his authority over the realms, and his new world order is proclaimed.
Our congregation seems to be devoted to serving the community which proclaims the love of God in Christ. I see them, when they give to the poor, or answer the call to another community ministry with their time and effort, or when they mention this one or that need in prayer glorifying Christ by acting themselves as the mediators, as Andrew, between the hurt and the hungry and Christ. I find that they have accepted the mission well enough to proclaim Christ, although like many in the mainline denominations, evangelization is nearly lacking. It is difficult for me to write to their attitudes, as I am still relatively new and have a much different picture on the mission of the church than many of my fellow congregants. I see that the Church, while doing these good works, must continue to proclaim the victory which Christ has wrought through the Cross. Part of that proclamation is the proclamation of the wedding feast, in that we must, wherever we are (giving difference to the participle based translation of Matthew 28.19), invite others to the feast table. The Victory is won, whether it is over the powers of poverty, or bureaucracy, or even death itself. It is there for the taking, and yet, we simply fail to ask people to join us in our victory.
I am torn, tossed to and fro, regarding the proper translation of Matthew 28.19, and whether or not it the imperative is the force of the saying or if the participle is really, as ‘you are going, go’. Perhaps I am making too much of this, but in my readings of Ephesians, which I count as Paul’s highest ecclesiastical treatise, I find it a victory speech as well as a plan to continue to grow. I note that we are given offices to urge us to that growth, and a goal. Further, I see that we are given a reign where Christ is set high above all others things in this world, and that the Church is the body of Christ on earth. But what I no longer see in this age is the victorious shout. One side has given up proclaiming the Gospel while the other side only wants to escape. I want to live in this world, where Christ has already won, but I don’t want to live by myself.