Monday, May 10, 2010

Feeling the Centripetal Force

At the beginning of 1 Corinthians, Paul says that he preaches the cross not because it’s a particularly winsome strategy (it actually sounds like foolishness to those who are perishing), rather he preaches the cross because it is the power of God. Paul says that being in the church means witnessing the power of God. He specifically applies this to Jews and Gentiles, people that did not (should not) usually get along. Paul says this is the wisdom of God because God thinks it’s a good idea (that it will work), and it’s the power of God on display because He will bring it about. Only God can hold these sorts of people together in love in the same room. Paul goes on to emphasize that this is all because of the Spirit of God. He says he came not with persuasive words but in demonstration of the Spirit and power. He says that this is the way God does His work in the church so that our faith will not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. This can sometimes be more apparent in small churches or churches with huge controversies, but the church is created and sustained by the power of the Spirit. Gordon Fee has pointed out that this is not like states or schools or the Elks club or 4H where there are human reasons for why those people come together and are friends. Being in the church should feel something like a ride at a carnival or worse. Or another way to ask the question is where is the power of God being exhibited? Why has that family stayed? They’re so different. Why do those two people get along? Why doesn’t half the church just leave? Of course we walk by faith, and we love one another. But there should always be some part of us that feels the centripetal force. And this applies to church discipline, to bold preaching, and to a right view of diversity within the church. When the wheels come off the tracks from time to time, we are reminded that the Spirit is the One holding this together. The kingdom of God is not in word but in power. So rejoice as we eat and drink together. Rejoice as the Lord knits us into one. But also rejoice in the ride, rejoice in the power of God. Rejoice in the fact that this thing, the Church, is God’s work, His project, and it’s His Spirit feeding us, nourishing us, and holding us all together.

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