Archive for February, 2008

Soapbox

Ekklesia is Greek for Church

Agape is Greek for Love

Kasmos is Greek for World/Universe

I’ve been mulling over this for sometime now trying to figure out what exactly it means. About a week ago I decided to brush up on my Greek so I wrote down these three words completely independent in thought and of each other; I wrote them with no intention of unity and with no thought of harmony. As I placed these solitary words next to each other I realized that the very nature of these words meant that they could not stand-alone. Their very purpose is intertwined with unity and with harmony. I believe that they form a simple command; that we (the church) should love the world just as we have been asked.

My question then becomes why is this so hard for us to do? I understand that I’m no expert on the subject, but as I stand back and look I can see that there is something missing in the equation. It is love? Or is it our understanding of what the world actually is? Please don’t misunderstand me, I truly believe that there are Churches that are doing this quite well, but I’m not talking about individual Churches, I’m talking about the Contemporary Western Church or Contemporary Western Christianity as a whole and not the Catholic (universal) Church.

How can the Church begin to love the world when it can’t even begin to love itself? Division and strife are all too prevalent within its body. One part of its body is waging war against another part; is this how a body functions? Do our arms fight against our legs because they function differently? We know that this is not the case; our arms are in unison with our legs so that we can walk or run toward our desired direction. They work for a common goal, which is movement. I believe that we must begin to move in a common direction; we must move so that we will not become stagnant, we must move so that we will not die. The Church is the Bride of Christ, but somewhere in her journey she had desired to sit upon the throne of opulence, she has replaced the shepherd’s staff with a rod made from the bones of immigrants, her crown that once shone bright with the radiance of grace is now dim with the mire of legalism, her servants are those who’s homes have been destroyed all in “the name of God”, she eats the flesh and drinks the blood of martyrs and she has closed the gates to her kingdom so that the poor and the disenfranchised cannot enter. And yet she is still beautiful, she is still the Bride of Christ. Despite all of her shortcomings she has still been chosen by God to complete His greatest work.

It is here that my relationship becomes strained. I don’t always want to be a part of the Church for the reasons I mentioned, but yet I know that I cannot live without her. The Church as a whole is far too beautiful for my unbelieving mind to even begin to grasp. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m tired of the division within congregations, the strife between denominations. I’m tired of the typical Christian jargon, our feeble attempt to acclimate to society and I’m tired of the legalism within our hearts. I long for a whole and healthy body that can run toward the glory of Christ. I long for a community that loves the world and looks beyond its own doors to serve. I long for a community that is beacon to this world, who loves without regard and who is not shaken by shallow theories and twisted ideologies.

How I long to be one with the Bride of Christ.

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XVI

This is a chapter from Athenagoras’ A Plea for the Christians. Athenagoras is an early Christian apologist who is writing to the Emperors Marcus Aurelius Antonius and Lucius Aurelius Commodus. He is writing this apology in response to the persecution of Christians and false accusations toward the early Church.

Beautiful without doubt is the world, excelling, as well in its magnitude as in the arrangement of its parts, both those in the oblique circle and those about the north, and also in its spherical form. Yet it is not this, but its Artificer, that we must worship. For when any of your subjects come to you, they do not neglect to pay their homage to you, their rulers and lords, from whom they will obtain whatever they need, and address themselves to the magnificence of your palace; but, if they chance to come upon the royal residence, they bestow a passing glance of admiration on its beautiful structure: but it is to you yourselves that they show honor, as being “all in all.” You sovereigns, indeed, rear and adorn your palaces for yourselves; but the world was not created because God needed it; for God is Himself everything to Himself, light unapproachable, a perfect world, spirit, power, reason. If therefore, the world is an instrument in tune, and moving in well-measured time, I adore the Being who gave its harmony, and strikes its notes, and sings the accordant strain, and not the instrument. For at the musical contests the adjudicators do not pass by the lute-players and crown the lutes. Whether, then, as Plato says, the world be a product of divine art, I admire its beauty, and adore the Artificer; or whether it be His essence and body, as the Peripatetics affirm, we don not neglect to adore God, who is the cause of the motion of the body, and descend “to the poor and weak elements,” adoring in the impassible air (as they term it), passible matter; or, if any one apprehends the several parts of the world to be powers of God, we do not approach and do homage to the powers, but their Maker and Lord. I do not ask of matter what it has not to give, nor passing God by do I pay homage to the elements, which can do nothing more than what they were bidden; for, although they are beautiful to look upon, by reason of the art of their Framer, yet they still have the nature of matter. And to this view Plato also bears testimony; “for,” says he, “that which is called heaven and earth has received many blessings from the Father, but yet partakes of body; hence it cannot possibly be free from change.” If, therefore, while I admire the heavens and the elements in respect of their art, I do not worship them as gods, knowing that the law of dissolution is upon them, how can I call those objects gods of which I know the makers to be men? Attend, I beg, to a few words on this subject.