Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Total Church = Total Community

More from this excellent book.
Chester and Timmis are totally into community. This is the big challenge to church as we've always known it. It isn't enough to speak to new people who come on a Sunday, for Total Church community is much more than that.
On p. 48 we read of how identity as Christians is found in a Christian community, and this Christian community is Christ's new community.
For many of us experiences of church are different from what we hope Christ's new community will be like. We find the old ways of being in community - competition, aggression, fear, gossiping - all the old destructive patterns of life. It is not a new challenge that the church should be a new community, a new kind of community (perhaps for a new kind of Christian!). We have all felt the force of this challenge before. I think in this book it comes with a fresh power and import.
Where do we seek our identity? In Christ. Well Jesus is usually the answer. But, what does this mean? It cannot mean less than the church becoming a whole life community in which we find our new identity in Christ.
I really like the thought on p. 38. A weakness exists in building my own identity rather than receiving one constructed by God's grace.
What freedom there is in not having to find myself, in not needing to be affirmed by any other than God in his grace. This I think is one of the most frightening ideas in the book, I must almost give up my own identity to receive a new one in grace.
No doubt this is included in cross bearing self-denial, but does not demean self or diminsh the worth placed upon me by a God whose Son died for me.
If only church could be a place where genuine grace shaped identity is born and nurtured in a community of those growing in the new, grace-given identities.

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