Continuing our summer Bloggin' the 28 project, pastor Ryan Bell applies the Seventh-day Adventist doctrine of The Church to contemporary life.
. . .The central task of the church is “witness” – or in the Greek, marturia. Part of being witnesses is to demonstrate, in our communal life, what the kingdom is like. The body of Christ is called to be a demonstration – an embodied witness – of the loving reign of God. This leads many theologians, like Stanley Hauerwas, to assert that the number one thing the church can do to give witness to the gospel of the kingdom is to be the church. When the church is focused on being the church – and not trying to be a corporation or an amusement park or something else – the world is able to see what God has in mind of the whole world. In this way, the church is a foretaste of the coming kingdom.
What kind of embodied witness does scripture call for? The New Testament is loaded with these narratives and mandates. The church witnesses to the forgiveness of God by being a reconciling community; a community that knows how to receive and extend God’s forgiveness. The church witnesses to the grace and hospitality of God by receiving strangers and extending God’s hospitality to ‘the other.’ The church embodies God’s future reign of peace and justice by being agents of peace and justice in the world today. The church gives demonstrable witness to God’s intention to heal all creation by being agents of healing and wholeness in our communities, caring for the environment and bringing God’s healing to the point of the world’s greatest pain.
We are also called to give witness in ways that are even more “alternative” and counter to the prevailing culture. It is not enough for the church to witness to God’s kingdom by the things it embraces. We are also called to the more difficult task of bearing witness through resistance.
There are some things that are just inconsistent with the gospel of the kingdom. For example – and here again, Adventists are uniquely positioned to be this embodied witness – followers of the Way of Jesus cannot embrace our world’s way of violence. Jesus was a person of uncompromising peace. He was a pacifist. Our Adventist forebears understood this. And so we are called to give witness to God’s reign of peace by resisting war and other forms of violence and exploitation.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/4131