Last Sunday the church I co-pastor with Matt had its first in-person worship gathering in 23 weeks (outdoors, face masks, social distanced, the whole 9 yards). But my family and I had to stay home because of a slight possibility we’d been exposed to Covid (we hadn’t, everyone’s fine).
Having to settle for watching the live stream while most of our church gathered in-person made me realize the gravity of what we’ve been missing these 5 months. Even with all the restrictions in place, there was still a sense of holiness and beauty about the Body of Christ gathering to worship.
The church isn’t just a convenient collection of individual Christians who find it “helpful” (or not) for their private spiritual lives. The church is actually a spiritually connected organism: the Body of Christ, and so our life with God is intricately linked to our life with fellow believers.
This can be difficult, I know. Some churches seem more like content production companies than actual communities. Some are toxic and deeply harmful to participate in. It’s really complicated. But the calling for the church to BE the Body of Christ remains. And the calling for us as Christians to find a way to BE IN the Body of Christ remains, for this is where our life in Christ comes from.
Augustine connected it this way:
If you would then live by the Spirit of Christ, be in the body of Christ… Draw near, believe; be embodied, that you may be made to live. Do not flee from close union with the members… Be a fair, fit, and sound member; cleave to the body, live for God by God.
To paraphrase Augustine, in the words we proclaim at the end of our prayers around the Lord’s table each Sunday: “Church, behold what you are! Become what you receive!”
Even though I know that I am right now part of the Body of Christ, I’m also looking forward to becoming the Body of Christ this Sunday as we gather to hear God’s Word proclaimed in Scripture, and receive God’s Word embodied in bread and wine.
The curated links for the week are below. I pray they equip you engage culture today from a deeply situated place in the Body of Christ.
- In the midst of increasing political polarization and antagonism, gentleness doesn’t seem like a good tool to “get the job done,” but pastor and author Scott Sauls begs to differ. On our podcast this week he talks about how gentleness is actually our “secret weapon” as followers of Jesus.
- It’s a hard time to be a pastor, and one of the reasons is that many in our churches are being drawn to the conspiracy theories of groups like QAnon. Katelyn Beaty reveals why this is not a harmless trend… it represents not just conspiracy theories, but the rise of a new alternative religion.
- Ron Sider, who has been a significant prophetic voice for decades (and has been on our podcast twice!) lays out a strong, clear, biblical way to be consistently “pro-life” (involving creation care, opposition to the death penalty, social justice, etc.), and why abortion needn’t override all other issues for American Christians of the conservative-leaning bent.
- Thom Rainer projects 5 ways churches will have changed one year from now. I think I’m already seeing some of these shifts.
- Vince Bantu on why it is entirely biblical to declare that “Black Lives Matter.”
- According to Kenneth Tanner, there are only 3 options: “You either believe that the end is the arrival of power, or you believe that the end is the arrival of nothing, or you believe that the end is the arrival of love.” A beautiful little eschatology of love… in the end “we will be overwhelmed by the generosity and beauty of the Love that is God.”
That’s all for today, folks. I leave you a quote on why silence feels so threatening to many of us:
A psychoanalysis of chatter would suggest that our over-verbalization is an effort to avoid something which is fearful—silence. But why should silence be threatening? Because words are a way of structuring, manipulating, and controlling; thus when they are absent the specter of loss of control arises. If we cannot name it, we cannot control it. Naming gives us power. Hence, silence is impotence, the surrender of control. Control is power, and power safety.
Sam Keen, from To A Dancing God, p. 44.
Grace and peace,
Ben Sternke (for Gravity Leadership)
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