Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pauline Dialogical Liberty

Check out the new and excellent essay from Dave Black on what Zwingli described as "The Rule of Paul". The more I read the New Testament, the less I see the church as established by Christ and led by the apostles in American Christianity. We use the same words that we see in Scripture but the results look strange and disconnected when viewed through the lens of Scripture. As Dr. Black writes, the recovery of the New Testament church is one of the great challenges set before us, a task we are called to that dwarfs many of the other less pressing issues that seem to dominate our time and attention.

This task of rebuilding the church is an urgent mandate for our generation. Are we willing to embrace a community in which kingdom citizens can participate as the Spirit leads them? Or are we using our positions of authority to perpetuate inequity? Are we building pyramids of power that Jesus cannot bless because His kingdom is flat? Do we allow edification to gravitate to the hands of a few? Do we work hard to decentralize ministry as much as possible? These questions cut to the core of our identity as followers of Jesus. His way unnerved the religious authorities of His day, and it will do the same thing today. His life and message assaulted the status quo. Likewise, Paul's appeal to every-member ministry offers an alternative model of community. Paul isn't just teaching church polity. He's unpacking bigger things. He asks us to remove the handcuffs that limit service to paid professionals. He invites kingdom citizens to become blind to status differences. He teaches that pastors are not to monopolize ministry but to equip others for works of service. He urges us to see others as more important than ourselves.
Those are important questions. Are we ready for the answers? This is a task that can only be accomplished through prayer and God's providence. We must make much of Christ and be willing to have our own role and acclaim diminished. For the glory of Christ to be demonstrated in His church, He must indeed increase and our pet traditions, power struggles, pride and power must decrease.

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