I have often stressed that the church’s calling to continue the ministry of Jesus in the world (a la, Luke 4:18-19) is just as much a part of God’s Eternal Purpose as living as a face-to-face community that makes a home for the Lord to lay His head.
(I’m speaking here of the church in local expression . . . a tangible, touchable, locatable body of believers in a locale, in whatever form or shape it may take.)
We Christians seem to fall off one side of the horse or the other on this subject.
Some make the church a shallow “soul-winning” / “world-improvement” station with little depth, relational life, or spiritual substance. Others make the church an insular, isolated, navel-gazing community.
I believe the church must know both inreach and outreach . . . it must know what it means to be “built together” as well as “being Christ” for the world. And it must learn how to discern the season for each.
As I’ve argued in From Eternity to Here, the ekklesia is called to embody Jesus Christ as a bride, a house, a body, and a family. This is God’s Eternal Purpose.
Today’s entry is an aggregate post. That is, it lists a collection of the best blog posts I’ve written over the years on the subject of how the church continues the ministry of Jesus in the world.
Some of these posts include audios and book excerpts. I’m creating this special post for two reasons:
(1) Some of these posts have provoked countless Christians and churches to reach out beyond themselves — not out of guilt, duty, obligation, or their own natural energies (which is almost the norm today) — but by and through the life of Jesus Christ Himself.
(2) Having a list of related posts on this topic in one place will make it easy for readers to access.
So here they are. Take a look at the descriptions, check out the posts, enjoy, and share!
The Missio Dei - covers the four aspects of God’s grand mission.
20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & the Christian Left Won’t Adopt Me – encourages Christians to engage the culture and affirms all types of engagement (social, civil, political, etc.) without necessarily aligning with the Christian Right or the Christian Left.
Living in the Divine Parenthesis – a challenge against the tendency to become insular, isolated, and ingrown. Explains how the New Testament calls us to engage in “good works,” but explains what good works are and aren’t. (In the New Testament, “good works” have to do with alleviating oppression and helping those who are hurting.) The source of good works is also discussed as well as the meaning of the Kingdom of God being present yet future. Includes audio.
Rethinking the Gospel – explains what the New Testament means when it uses the word “gospel” as well as “Jesus is Lord” and “Christ is ALL.” Jesus of Nazareth is Lord, not just over our private spiritual lives, but over the whole world.
Following Your Spiritual Instincts Regarding the Poor – explains how much God cares for the poor and what our attitude should be toward them.
Wavin’ Flag: Remix – a song I wrote that expresses Christ’s love for the world through the church.
Rethinking How We Present the Gospel – affirms yet rethinks how we present the gospel to non-Christians.
N.T. Wright – my exclusive interview with N.T. Wright where we discuss church, mission, culture, and the church’s prophetic role in speaking to “power.”
Epic Jesus – Jesus is much larger than our traditions, personal tastes, and theological systems. Includes audio. E. Stanley Jones said, “A reduced Christ is the same as a rejected Christ.” Epic Jesus unfolds that thought.
A Vanishing God – Jesus has an interesting habit of breaking out of our expectations, imaginations, preferences, and ideas. A challenge against sectarianism and elitism, something I’ve spoken against often.
The Eternal Purpose – explores the four aspects of God’s timeless purpose. Includes audio.
The Anatomy of the Church – outlines 14 metaphors for the church, some of which depict its nature to reach out to the world around it.
The Presence of the Future – a meditation on the Kingdom being “already, but not yet.” HT to George E. Ladd.
Kingdom Confusion: Part I – rethinking the Kingdom of God in the world.
Kingdom Confusion: Part II – dismantles the fallacy of pitting the Kingdom against the church. If you’ve heard people say, “Jesus mentioned the church only twice, but He mentioned the Kingdom over 100 times” you need to read this.
Thoughts on the Coming Revival – a reflection on past and future revivals.
Helping God’s Family in this Economy – an encouragement to help others in need, “especially those of the household of faith.”
20-Somethings Share What Attracted Them to Jesus Christ – over 250 twenty-something Christians explain what attracted them to Jesus. (Read the comments.) Insightful and instructive.
Why Calvinists Live Like Arminians & Arminians Pray Like Calvinists – expands the conversation in Jesus Manifesto (2010) that Jesus is larger than our self-constructed theological boxes and will always break out, leading us to a larger vision of mission and prayer.