What does it mean to be the church in a post Christian world? In his first letter, Peter calls Christians exiles, foreigners, or resident aliens. How does one live as an exile in a foreign land?
The easiest approach is to seek to blend in. To assimilate. To adopt the practices and perhaps even the beliefs of the dominant culture. This is an invalid response. We are called to be holy, literally set apart. We are called to be different. We have been redeemed for more than just to blend in.
What is more, we (plural) are chosen by God so that we may be built as living stones into a spiritual house acceptable to God. A house that stands for something, or someone. (1 Peter 2)
If the world then is unholy, and we are called to be holy, should we separate ourselves from the world? This would be another version of an invalid response. For we are also called to be salt and light. The church is meant to change the world, to transform it, not to avoid it.
How does one bring about change? The obvious answer is with power and coercion. At times the Church has employed these tactics. To try to bring as many as possible under the Kingly rule(s) of God.
My own view is that this is a season for a more subversive approach. As the church acts out kingdom values, and actions are prophetic. What looks like weakness to the point of being a spectacle (1 Corinthians 4:9), turns out be something that both shows God’s strength (2 Cor 11), and something that God uses to spread the aroma of Christ (2 Cor 2).
We are a people who march to the beat of a different drum. Our walk ought to be different (holy), prophetic, and faithful to the divine drummer (sorry – I couldn't help myself!). As we stand for something (or someone) else, God’s Spirit will be at work in some, who may find Christ’s aroma strangely compelling.
Rev David Rietveld
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