This is the epistle reading from lectionary this week.
“(1) Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. (2) Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. (3) But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. (4) I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. (5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:1-5).
It is becoming overwhelmingly apparent to me that the church just needs to not take itself so seriously. In other words, we make it harder on ourselves than it has to be. I am thinking about the marks of the church (one, holy, catholic, and apostolic), particularly the call to unity, or oneness. Could it be that the church has been trying to secure unity in the wrong way? Could it be that the church has been trying to come together on issues that were never meant to be agreed upon across the board? I am thinking particularly about structural patterns in local churches, but I am sure there are a variety of things one could discuss. In other words (with Paul) our unity lies in the gospel and the transforming call for responsibility. Our task is not about imposing our own culturally conditioned assumptions about the way things are in the world on other people, as true as they may be. Rather, as we the church face the freshness and challenge of each new day we are called to hold up our assumption with open hands to God and one another and ask (plea) for guidance and direction.
“The calling of the church to be missional – to be a sent community – leads the church to step beyond the given cultural forms that carry dubious assumptions about what the church is, what its public role should be, and what its voice should sound like. Testing and receiving our assumptions and practices against a vision of the reign of God promises the deep renewal of the missional soul of the church that we need. By daily receiving and entering the reign of God, through corporate praying for its coming, and longing for its appearance, and in public living under its mantle, this missional character of the church will be nourished and revived” (Darrel Guder, Missional Church, 109).
I am not necessarily trying to advance the cause of a Missional Theology. That leads us down the very road of absolutism and institutionalism that Missional Theology is hoping to steer the church away from. However, the basic premise (of this quote) indicates something that should always remain true: the gospel perpetually challenges all our assumptions until it is on earth as it is in heaven.