I’ve been reflecting further on what I said about Christianity’s opposition to tribalism last week. And I want to offer a corrective for my provocative suggestion that genuine Christian community is incoherent (because it finds its origin and continuity outside itself).
So let me try to recast it. Now I’m thinking that it’s better to say:
The church does NOT have a body.
There. That clears any confusion right up. Doesn’t it?
Well … probably not. At this point something along the following lines may be running through your head: “Dude! What are you smoking? Of course the church has a body — it’s the body of Christ!”
But that’s exactly my point.
The church does not have a body. It is a body. The body of Christ. He’s it’s head. That’s the way the New Testament presents it.
Considered apart from Jesus, we’re a headless cadaver.
Well, the prospect of losing touch with Christ our head is gruesome.
Christ is our life. He gives the church not only its existence but its integrity and direction. We owe him any distinctiveness and power we have.
Surely that’s why we don’t proclaim ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord!
Lest you think I’m getting all hot and bothered over a technicality, let me point out at least one implication of taking this seriously.
The worship debate has flared up again recently (as you can see HERE and HERE). A number of influential Christian leaders are suggesting we shouldn’t refer to the church gathering — or any aspects of what goes on when we’re gathered (e.g., singing) — with ‘worship’ language.
I’ve followed the argument closely (I used to be a strong proponent of it). And I can hardly fault the claim that misapplying worship language and terminology can erode the gospel — leaving us with an impoverished message of connecting with God through particularly intense experiences facilitated by the ‘worship team’.
But I wonder if one of the ways worship language could function when we get together is to focus us on Jesus, the one we adore and from whom our life and fellowship derives.
If ‘worship’ isn’t the right language for this (and it may not be), we badly need to find something that is…