Church and World
The ‘Church’ and the ‘World’ are two different entities. How do we grapple the distinction between the Church and the World? The Church, as it is, is a community of saints, called to be set apart from the world. A clear dissection is found wanting in the minds of many Christians. How can the Church possibly be involved in the affairs of the world? The Church stands for holiness and spiritual formation of the believers.But does that alone suffice the role of the Church? Listen to Karl Barth, “Holiness in itself is no holiness whatever. From the safe and once lauded domain of religion we are beginning to look out on the world with real longing; for we suspect… that there can be no inside to that domain so long as there is no outside.” Holiness without its implication towards the world is no holiness at all. Or say, the Church comprising of holy saints without nudging and touching their neighbours is of null significance.
Reading on 1 Peter by Joel B. Green, he has to say this, “Many of us are accustomed to imagining the Church as an instrument of political and social change, and we imagine that we can wield the power of the state (in the wider world) or of our position (within ecclesiastical circles) in order “to build God’s kingdom on earth.” We easily overlook that the kingdom of God is God’s, and that God has called us not to build but rather to serve the kingdom.”This attitude shift of trying to maintain God’s kingdom or building should be removed from our mentality and the matrices of service from the Church to the outside world should take its proper seat. God desires of the Church not to become too institutionalized that it forgets the primacy of loving God and loving others. Service precedes building God’s Kingdom or it is serving that sums up the second duty of Jesus’ commandment.
In a jointly authored Resident Aliens, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon gave a pointed remark, “Christianity is mostly a matter of politics-politics as defined by the gospel.”Indeed, the politics as defined by the gospel is the rule of God not with an iron hand but with justice and equity. The Church, then as subjects of the world to come should behave in a manner that defines and displays the character of Christ’s principles and values in this temporary world. The Church has its role in contemporary settings and that is to treat the present world as “passing” and to live lives for the “permanent” home as a reality. The Church has become too acculturated with the world and has adopted many of its policies in running the house of God that it has forgotten completely that heaven is our ultimate destination. Now that being said, all is not well for many believers because our attention of Parousia (Second Coming of Christ) has lost its rightful place.
The vision of eschatological hope of a Christian should define the way we live, behave, react, act and speak. This reality of truth should not be evaded with the secondary matters of living lives with satisfaction and ease. The topic of “Living for the now” should never erase the “Living for the future glory.” Remember it is not as you think it will be but it will be as is written in the Word. And “if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinners?”