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Both Theology And Community

January 18, 2011

I often like to describe the church of Jesus Christ on earth as theology lived out in community.  When seeking to understand more about any given church (including ours), I first ask what does that church believe.  What are the theological convictions and core values of that local fellowship of believers?  How do they articulate the person and work of Jesus Christ?  What are the essential elements of the gospel and how are those communicated to those inside and outside the church?  How do they understand themselves in the kingdom of God and under the lordship of Jesus Christ?  These questions begin to form the foundations for understanding a church’s understanding of itself as the called-out, blood-bought, kingdom-proclaiming people of God.

Yet, the church is more than a set of theological propositions.  The church is people.  It is a community of believers seeking to live out the implications of their theological convictions and values.  It is a place where there is not only God-glorifying, Christ-proclaiming theology but also grace-infused, self-sacrificial love demonstrating community.

Unfortunately we don’t always get it right.  And when we don’t, people are quick to remind us. However, what often goes unnoticed by the critics is when we do get it right.  And the church functioning in the truth of God and the love of God is the most impressive and beautiful thing on earth.  Last evening, we were the beneficiaries of theology in community and it was wonderful.

Yesterday, our family experienced the death of a loved one.  The sorrow was great and the loss is only beginning to be felt.  In moments like these you look for theology in community.  You want to see if it really is true.  You look for theology lived out in community to see if the church can get it right.  Yes they did!

The saints rallied around our family with a self-sacrificial love that was born out of the conviction that in the gospel Christ Jesus has sacrificed himself for us.  There were gracious expressions of faith, fellowship, food, and the warmth of God’s family.  It was truly amazing.  Last night I was reminded that with theology and community it is not either/or.  Rather it is both/and.

Admittedly, we don’t always get it right.  But when we do…Wow!

 

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