Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Only Ecclesiology that Matters

Ecclesiology:  Theology as applied to the nature and structure of the Christian church

As with so many other things, I am guilty of this myself; and, I truly believe it’s rooted in pride.  I, until very (milliseconds ago) recently, thought I had the lock down on ecclesiology.  I’ve thought this before, in different seasons of my life.  Yet each time I think I’ve got it all figured out, I’ve learned something new, I’ve grown in a different way, and I’ve come into a deeper and more beautiful experience of the grace of Jesus Christ. 
But after reading/listening to yet another Christian-bashing-Christian blog/podcast, I am ever more convinced that neither I nor any other fully-human-and-not-divine person completely understands or practices the ecclesiology of Christ himself.  Nobody has ever expressed the perfect praxis of the gospel that should be the nature and structure of the bride of Christ.  We’re too myopic, too self-oriented, too prideful, too fallen.

Like ancient Israel, we busy ourselves with the daily preening that comes with I’m-better-than-my-fellows-because-hold-the-patent-on-God’s-truthiest-Truth.  And like the ancient Hebrews, we are very, very wrong.  In our fractured version of the Church, our us-versus-them or me-above-you theologies, we have lost sight of the very tasks to which we have been called.

I doubt that the father trying to hold his child through the tangle of endless tubes and amidst beeps and alarms and the acrid smell of sanitation, will care whether I’m pre- or post-trib; so long as I’ll pray with and for them both. 
I can’t see the mother, racking her brain to think of how she’ll feed her kids their one meal for the day, caring about whether I’m Calvinist or Arminianist or Molinist; so long as I give her children food.

I have a hard time believing that the girl, who is trying to lance her pain out of her very skin, actually gives a rip about whether I’m complimentarian or egalitarian; so long as I walk with her on the road to her healing.

I don’t think the homeless person, who hasn’t showered in months and who hasn’t been called by his name in decades, cares if I’m Catholic or Reformed or Non-demoninational; so long as I look him in the eye, ask his name, and speak to him as though he were a human being.   

I can’t imagine that the boy, whose father has run off and who now lives with his mom’s abusive boyfriend, cares in the least whether I’m fundamentalist or liberal; so long as I can protect him from the hurt. 

In the darkest nights of our souls, these labels don’t matter.
Yes, a well-reasoned apologetic is necessary: to reach the lost and defend the truth.  Yes, sound doctrine is essential: to maintain the gospel and follow the Lord.  And, yes, appropriate theology is crucial: because we can’t love a God we don’t know.  Without these, works are meaningless and faith is dead.  But we have to stop slaying one another over the minutia of human systems and labels. 

Because Christ didn’t become human to give us labels.  He came to remove them.  Christ didn’t die on the cross to divide people.  He came to unite us in him.  Christ didn’t rise again to keep people out of his kingdom.  He rose from death to gather all those who call him Lord into his house, that he may call us friend and beloved. 

That, cherished friend, must be our ecclesiology.  Faith in the Truth and Love in our praxis. 

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