“Here is the church.
Here is the steeple.
Open the doors
And see all the people.”
Life in community is not as simple and straightforward as this children’s rhyme would lead us to believe. There is more to the church than the building and more to the building than its members. Instead, we gather each Sunday to experience the transformative message and ministry of Jesus Christ. But, we do not come without our own cultural expectations and values of what Christian discipleship, fellowship, worship and ministry should be.
Instead, we bring competing and often, cultural Christs, rooted in our family history, social location and personal relationship with the Divine. Separating cultural identity from Christian identity, cultural values from Christ’s values can be difficult as our faith is expressed through this lens. But, when our lens becomes the vision or worse still, the image of Christ, what then? How do we discern between them?
God created the diversity for which we stumble to find words and opportunities to include all people. Still, conversations centered around culture, community and our Christian values are deep, rich and necessary ones. Not a simple venture, it is a part of the journey of self- mortification and transformation. Charles E. Moore writes in Called to Community: The Life Jesus Wants for His People, “Forming community is not just living close to one another. Prisoners do that. Rather, community demands personal sacrifice and personal transformation.” Life in community is not as simple and straightforward as Sunday morning participation. No, it will require authentic, courageous and intentional change as the Jesus community.
“Here is the church…