Oh, this is such a huge topic, it will take me days to write everything that needs to be said! I am starting some serious research on this topic, starting with the Bible and looking specifcially at the Tanach, the teachings of Christ on poverty and possessions, and the epistle as well as the first five chapters of Acts. That’s a lot of material right there. But I am also reading Robert Schnase, Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Brian D. McLaren’s everything must change, Richard J. Foster on Celebration of Discipline and a compendium edited by Darrell L. Guder, Missional Church. This should keep me busy for a while, and it’s about time!
“Christians” are the followers of Christ, whether they are ‘cultural Christians’ – those who attend church mainly for social reasons, without being concerned with faith and practice, or they are ‘credal Christians’ – those who take the teachings of Christ and the precepts of the revealed God in the Bible as a rule of life. The devoted Christians, who have made the way of Jesus their creed, or guide of faith, may dismiss cultural Christians as dilettantes, or followers of the world, or even hypocrites. But we need to remember that they are a mission field in themselves, sitting right beside us. How do we reach them, when they have heard the Word, received the sacraments, and yet are not moved to give their life, heart and soul completely to Christ? We must do it through the example we set of faithfulness and devotion, of charity, hospitality and generosity.
“Ekonomia” is a Greek word, meaning the household, with the connotation of the management of the household. When we use it in the church, we mean mostly our expressions of faithfulness, our acts, as well as the management of the church. It has a larger context of the stewardship of creation, the mission that God imposed on all humanity. Humanity has failed utterly in this, especially in the last two and a half centuries, and we weren’t always good at it before, there just weren’t enough of us to ruin everything forever.
“The Kingdom” is the kingdom of God, whether we mean our lives here on earth or our lives in the world to come. Jesus wasn’t particularly clear on that. He may have been deliberately vague, to keep us in a state of tension, caught between here and there, our feet on the ground and our eyes on heaven. we can look at churches and communities that choose to separate from the world, from monasteries to Anabaptists, and churches and communities that live immersed, such as mainline churches and para-church organizations.
What would you like to see on this topic? We are all struggling with day-to-day living, keeping or finding jobs, managing the money which doesn’t go very far, acting in charity and generosity, worshipping, praying, caring and sometimes failing. Why do we think it important to keep on struggling? Or do we? What happens if we give up the good fight?