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By James D. Sanderson
Special to The PREVIEW
In light of the servanthood that Jesus lived in His life — even to the point of washing the feet of his disciples — it seems absurd that the Christian Church would hold to any form of hierarchy, let alone the practice of having a senior pastor and all others aligned under his direction and control.
Where does this notion come from?
From the priesthood, of course, and to be fair there aren’t many other “missional” models around to learn from.
In 1 Peter 2:5, Christian believers are called a holy priesthood: “… you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood …”
The way I read that, we are all priests. We are all, if I may, under-shepherds of the one whose Church it really is — Jesus Christ Himself.
Rather than consumers of Christianity and worshipers only, we are called to reach out to the world around us, too seek and to save that which has been lost. To reconcile that which has been broken. To sit at the foot of the banquet table while we serve others. While we serve our entire community.
Of course, my argument makes little difference if it cannot somehow be put into concrete action. Our world remains untouched by the blessings and power of God if we keep ourselves contained within the four walls of a church building. Only by taking it out into our community will the world be transformed by Christ’s goodness and by the power of His message. We must prove our faith, really, if we expect anyone to pay any attention to us or, more to the point, to the One who sent us.
When I talk to people who do not currently attend church, several objections are commonly heard.
“There is no power in it.”
And, “What does it have to do with me — with my life?”
I spend most of my time listening and offering to pray for these who have been cut off from the Body of Christ in one way or another. Listening and offering to pray are both small ways of sacrificing ourselves for other people, as Christ sacrificed Himself for us. In this way we become part of the redemptive history of the Kingdom. God sent His Son into the world as the ultimate form of sacrifice. We must be willing to sacrifice ourselves — our time, our resources, our best efforts — on behalf of others.
When Jesus tells us to love one another, the love He is speaking of goes far beyond the romantic notion of love we find in movies and books and magazines.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34).
“As I have loved you …” That’s quite a love. That was a love that caused Him to give up the glory of heaven and come to earth to live among us. That was a love that took Him to the cross.
When the Church is seen as a structure, a set of rules, an institution, a type of government, a business enterprise, it becomes static and thus defeat able. When it is, rather, a fellowship of believers, the Body of Christ, it remains vital and alive and invincible. That is the Church that is built upon the rock which cannot be assailed.
Our mission is not done in heaven, fellow believers, it is to be done on earth. We must reach the world beginning in our own street, our block, our neighborhood. Then the power of God will be released into others. The power of God will be released into our community.
For more about the One Church Movement in Pagosa Springs see www.jamesdsanderson.com.
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