A New Sign

MarchMadnessIs it unethical — is it wrong — to organize a college basketball pool among the ministers and staff? Wouldn’t that be a lot of fun? Would anybody in the church freak out?

We’re all filling out our brackets as a family tonight at Stanglin Manor. Not for money. Nobody plays for cash. It’s all about pride. This is the fifth or sixth year now the whole family has followed the tournament with picks on the line. And I’ve won every single year. Except last year. Whitney won the contest last year. And she’s been talking smack now ever since Sunday. Revenge is mine, I will repay.

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A New SignDo you think the Church still views its God-given mission as presenting and proclaiming an alternative lifestyle? Something better. Something higher. Something radically different. Something you can’t find anywhere else on this planet. Something you can only find inside a community of faith. Something that only belongs to children of God and followers of the Christ. Something real. Ultimately real. Eternal. Otherworldly. Belonging to another reality. The real reality.

Shouldn’t we be proclaiming and living something that can’t be purchased atA New Sign Wal-Mart or consumed at Chuck-E-Cheese or experienced at a Multiplex Movie Theater? And, if so, doesn’t that mean our means — our methods of this proclamation and living — should also be otherworldly and radically different? Christ-like, not earth-like. The Jesus Way, not the American Way.

From Resident Aliens, by Hauerwas and Willimon:

The most interesting, creative, political solutions we Christians have to offer our troubled society are not new laws, advice to Congress, or increased funding for social programs — although we may find ourselves supporting such national efforts. The most creative social strategy we have to offer is the Church. Here we show the world a manner of life the world can never achieve through social coercion or governmental action. We serve the world by showing it something that it is not, namely, a place where God is forming a family out of strangers.

A New SignThe Christian faith recognizes that we are violent, fearful, frightened creatures who cannot reason or will our way out of our mortality. So the gospel begins, not with the assertion that we are violent, fearful, frightened creatures, but with the pledge that, if we offer ourselves to a truthful story and the community formed by listening to and enacting that story in the Church, we will be transformed into people more significant than we could ever have been on our own.

As Barth says, “The Church exists to set up in the world a new sign which is radically dissimilar to the world’s own manner and which contradicts it in a way which is full of promise.”

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I’ve added a new link to the blogrole on the right hand side of this page. It’s Made In The Streets, the great work of Charles and Darlene Coulston in Nairobi, Kenya. They’ve been working with abandoned and orphaned and run-away children there for 15 years, reaching out to them with the love and mercy of God in Christ, showing them and living with them this citizen-of-heaven reality that is so radically different from the other, seen and temporary, “reality” all around them. You’ll be blessed by visiting their site.

Peace,

Allan

3 Comments

  1. Caleb Courtney

    It would be unethical for you to NOT participate in a March Madness Office Pool.

    As someone who gets way to involved with politics, thanks for this post. The church, (by that I mean all denominations and creeds) is quickly slipping in to irrelevance. (as measured by secular and church research). We have lost our vision for what Jesus wanted to church to be. Too often you and I make it about us, promoting our political agenda, our worship style, or our beliefs on who is saved.

    Christ is holding a great banquet and he has sent us out into the gutters, the alleys, the underpasses to call his people to the table. Who do you eat with around the table: your family. The church makes family out of strangers, God’s family. At this time people are seeking community and family more and more. Look at all the social networking sites, the internet dating sites, we all want to be a part of something.

    The Barna research group noted that church growth doubles in times of recession. People will be looking for our sign, are we ready for them, because they will be coming to us soon, if not already.

    Great thoughts.

  2. Rob's Dad

    There is nothing wrong in filling out a bracket or watching the games. What is wrong is acting like a bracket bully. We should all embrace our lack of knowledge and just enjoy. As for me, I acknowledge my spareness so I’ll be using Bracket Dan for my picks (unless he picks the Mormons against those Fightin’ Texas Aggies).

    Caleb – as always, I enjoy your comments. Thoughtful and thought provoking.

    Allan – how do you define the Church? And looking at Caleb’s comment on the sign, would this be the time to move on that change we discussed this morning?

  3. Allan

    Moving on that change we discussed this morning might result in my moving. Period.

    Yes, we are “Legacy Church of Christ, a Non-Denominational Community Church.” That’s certainly what all of us would claim. But, I’ll bet we’re not ready to put that on the flashing sign out on Mid-Cities Blvd.

    Define Church? Are you serious? What is this, a questionaire to see if I qualify to speak on a brotherhood TV show?

    Church: the eternal, invisible body of believers who have put their faith solely in Christ Jesus for their salvation; who have submitted to that Lordship by participating in the death and resurrection of Jesus by baptism; who have received the gift of God’s Spirit living within them; and who live in a community of faith that comes together regularly to worship the Creator and share the Eucharist meal.

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