Pursuing my concept of the church as composed of those colonies of God’s New Humanity in Christ, we come to the inevitable question of: who equips such persons who compose such colonies into New Humanity living? After all, Peter will write to the folks in the new humanity colonies of Asia Minor (I Peter 3:13-17) that they should, first of all, live such excellent New Humanity lives so that when others ask of them the reason for such lives, such hope, that they can respond to theirs inquirers with a thoughtful answer, and do it with gentleness and sensitivity.

That says two things to us: 1) that someone has formed mentored those folk in (what our Latin American sisters and brothers call) orthopraxis, or the behavior and demeanor of those who have encountered Jesus Christ and had their lives transformed by him; and 2) a working grasp of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ: what he came to be and do, and consequently, what he calls upon us to be and do. After all, Jesus has instructed us: “As the Father has sent me, even so do I send you.” All of our lives should flow out of our oneness with Jesus Christ. It should be a natural flow. But someone has to equip us for such. Who? How?

Or there is the word of rebuke by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again” (Hebrews 5:11). Or Paul’s wonderful description of the gatherings of the colonies: “Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts” (Colossians 3:16). Or, for another, Peter’s breath-taking introduction to his second letter: “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (II Peter 1:2-3).

Do you see that these all speak of an essential dynamic within the colonies of God’s New Humanity people by which all–everyone– are formed and equipped to be living, breathing, eager practitioners of the new life that is theirs by virtue of their embrace of Jesus Christ. This simply does not happen in most of the venerable and traditional churches that focus on clergy, on high liturgy and high sacramentalism. It also does not ordinarily happen well, even in the exciting mega-churches with their colorful and gifted preachers and their rock concert popularity among younger participants. Such expressions of the Christian community undoubtedly have their place, but it is quite to easy to become a passive spectator, and never be formed to be working and eager part of God’s calling to be contagious with the good news of his reconciling, recreating love in Jesus Christ.

What if … every believer were so discipled that he/she had a healthy working grasp of the gospel message of Jesus’ life and teachings? If every believer were totally at ease and eager to engage those god-seekers whom they meet in daily life in significant conversation? If every believer had a keen and knowledgeable sense of the cultural influences that form this present scene? If every believer saw himself/herself as a missionary church-planter wherever they sojourned? According to Ephesians 4, that is the plan. I hope to come back an unpack this. Stay tuned ….



About rthenderson

Sixty years a pastor-teacher within the Presbyterian Church. Author of several books, the latest of which are a trilogy on missional ecclesiology: ENCHANTED COMMUNITY: JOURNEY INTO THE MYSTERY OF THE CHURCH, then, REFOUNDING THE CHURCH FROM THE UNDERSIDE, then THE CHURCH AND THE RELENTLESS DARKNESS. Previous to this trilogy was A DOOR OF HOPE: SPIRITUAL CONFLICT IN PASTORAL MINISTRY, and SUBVERSIVE JESUS, RADICAL FAITH. I am a native of West Palm Beach, Florida, a graduate of Davidson College, then of Columbia and Westminster Theological Seminaries.
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