Monday, January 23, 2012

The Spirituality of the Body of Christ

Over the last few months, I have been posting occasional articles describing my spirituality. You may have noticed some dynamic contrasts that developed along the way. My spirituality is one of both retreat and creativity, of both risk and roots, of both longing and incarnation.

Recently, I shared of my spirituality of mystery, one side of another dynamic contrast. The other side is experiencing, here and now, the self-giving love of God as revealed through the Body of Christ. God is mystery, but Christ is mystery revealed.

When Jesus said “where two or three are gathered in my name, there will I be,” he meant it. This amazing idea that he is present in our midst, that he is not only “around here somewhere” but that he is here in US and that we are his body redeemed by his blood, changes everything.

When this simple idea becomes the core of our operative theology of the church, it is life-giving. So I share today some of my spirituality of the Body of Christ, and I may continue with a couple of reflections in future posts.

The “Body of Christ” is one of Paul’s central themes in the New Testament. He used the metaphor of the healthy systems of the human body working together to describe the church. Yet we so often impose our secular understandings of “how to get things done” on church. We forget that this profound assertion in Paul’s writing leads us to a way of deeper love.

In short, I don’t think of the church as an organization. I think of it as an organism. Embracing the church as a body, rather than thinking of it as an institution, has changed my life. There is nothing wrong with using good business sense to help the church run smoothly. But the New Testament gives us an entirely different way of thinking than “us and them,” “get-er-done,” and “how to win friends and influence people.”

The church is a workshop for learning the ways of love that will only be fully realized in heaven. This is what church administration is all about.