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Friday, October 14, 2005

Our Identity

This came to me in class today...
As followers of Christ, we must resist the temptation to find our identity in our theology (what we believe) or in our ecclesiology (how we worship). Instead, we need to find our identity in who we are: Christians, a community united to Christ through faith, and to one another as family.

We must constantly remind ourselves: we don't DO church - we ARE the church, and we are called to BE the church - the church is not a building, a program, or even a worship service; the church is a body, a living organism that exemplifies unity in the midst of diversity, that pursues justice while giving grace.

So when we talk about "planting a church" what we really mean is "being a people" - living lives of faith in Christ and service to one another, living with one another, living for one another.

Being "transformed by the Gospel" means learning to image God in every inch of our lives, relationships, and communities. It is 'doing' that flows from 'being'.


At 10:30 AM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

Yes, I totally agree. And I bet those in church leadership would agree with this, too. And I bet tons of other leaders agree with this... but we don't really act this way, do we? I mean, we say we should, or that we want to... but when the rubber meets the road, we tend to drift back into the realm of DOING church, instead of BEING church. Why is that? What is it that stops us from really, actually, truly living this way - as opposed to beating ourselves and others up on the way we all SHOULD be living? What would happen if we really lived this way????

At 11:15 AM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Christian said...

Ah, now THAT is a really good question isn't it? It's also a very hard question.

I think I typically seem to respond one of two ways:

1) I tend to say "hmmm...that's a tough one" (and then nothing ever changes). -OR-

2) I tend to approach ministry as a set of "problems to be solved", and so I try to analyze, categorize, quantify, come up with a list of things to do... uh, oh: I've fallen right back into that mode of doing-rather-than- being.

So for now I'll try to avoid both of these and just suggest a couple of thoughts:

a) I notice similar patterns in other areas as well - like sharing my faith. I want to do it, but it's real easy not to. Interestingly, I've seen the greatest change in my own life in this particular area when I've leaped before looking and started inviting people into our lives and actually inviting them to critique (or even evangelize!) me.

b) The one place where my being really comes out even more clearly than my saying or doing is in my family life. And then it's usually the negative stuff that comes out - the stuff I'd rather hide. And the reason the real me shows through here is because I'm around them all the time, so there's friction in the context of obligation to one another.

So maybe we could find the beginnings of a solution by just putting ourselves in harms way - basically by saying that rather than trying to avoid messiness or have it all figured out before I do anything, I'm going to just get in there and muck it up - rubbing shoulders with as many people as possible (both believers and unbelievers). And maybe that muck will be the catalyst for me to BE rather than just DO because a) I'll be in real relationships, and b) the real me will be bubbling up (meaning I'll have plenty to repent for).

Just thinking out loud here. I'm afraid I don't have a definitive answer yet. I'd love to hear what others think about this...

At 2:47 PM, October 15, 2005, Blogger Dan McGowan said...

Maybe it's a "Pay It Forward" kind of thing... you just - uh - START! Even typing that is odd... it makes me sound all holy, huh? Like NOW, I will BE that "Christian" I claim to be! This could be the Holy Spirit convicting me to live differently - and then, when I start living differently, I can usually count on a few well-meaning, "wise" brothers or sisters to tell me that I might be taking things "a bit far..." And yet, I have not taken things "as far" as Jesus did, have I? No nail scars in MY hands... yet.

Man, I'd love to copy and paste this entire discussion over on my blog site... - but I think that would be plagerism - or something... so I won't do it - well, not while anyone's LOOKING anyway...

At 9:06 PM, October 19, 2005, Blogger Mark Traphagen said...

This reminds me of N T Wright's quoting of Richard Hooker: "We aren't justified by faith by believing in justificatin by faith, we're justified by faith by believing in Jesus."


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