Friday, April 17, 2009

you're dead to me

Romans 6 is tough stuff. This morning I was trying to wrap my mind around Paul's words, "We have died to sin" (6:2) and "Consider yourselves dead to sin" (6:11). Those are tough teachings to grasp because quite honestly I don't feel like I've died to sin. In my experience sin feels very much alive and sneaking around in my life.

It's true that Paul doesn't say "sin is dead." It's clearly not. What he does say is that those who follow Jesus are "dead to sin." But what does that mean in real life when sin is still lurking around? As I was thinking about that this morning the infamous line attributed to The Godfather II, "You're dead to me", came to mind. When Michael Corleone told Fredo, "You're nothing to me now; you're not a brother, you're not a friend; I don't want to know you or what you do", he was telling his brother that he was dead to him. Fredo hadn't died (not yet anyway), but he was certainly dead to Michael. He had no place in his home. He didn't want to see him or hear his voice. He had no role in his or his family's life any longer. Fredo was dead to him.

I think that's a pretty good picture of what Paul is saying our relationship to sin should look like. We should treat it as if it is dead to us. It has no place in our homes or in our hearts. We don't want to look at it or know it or hear it or even know what it does. It has no role in our lives.

Sin is dead to us.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

the church in 25 years

Here's one guy's take on what the church will look like in 25 years. Personally, I think it will look like a lot of different things, but I do think C. Wess Daniels does a nice job of articulating the direction she is heading. (The words in bold are ones that particularly intrigue me):

My (Wess Daniels) sense about the future is that the church, whatever is left of it in 25 years, will be built around a kind of nebulous, decentralized participation in God’s mission. I imagine there will be a lot less full-time CEO pastors and more people who see themselves as co-cultivators of kingdom imaginations. People who band together in a world where there is little money, time or space for full-time ministry to embody this call.

At the heart of what we might call “mission communities” won’t be buildings, and budgets but high amounts of inter-connectivity, utilizing and disseminating the church’s wisdom and critique through whatever devices and networks are available. Being tied-down to physical space will be seen less as an asset and more as a disadvantage. I think these people will use whatever space is available to them, and while being committed to particular (local) areas, they won’t be fixed to one location.

Building on this sense of participating within these mobile ecclesial groups will be a strong emphasis on communal creativity, rather than the individualistic focus of the do-it-YOURSELF, they will be focused on a do-it-OURSELVES mentality. In 25 years the church will not count on social services, setup within Christendom, to do its work for it any longer. The church will have to embody God’s mission, creativity, justice, non-violence and hospitality as a community of people committed to being disciples of Jesus.

Because these Christians will be less separated from the world it will be important to build communities and practices of resistance: people who read Scripture together to be reminded and shaped as people of “The Way” while learning how to survive in empire, who share their food, their belongings, and who reject the speed and consumption of hyper-capitalism. They will be non-conformist while living within and seeking to transform the world.

Finally, while this gathered diasporic people will focus on their particular local concerns they will also join with other “mission communities” for collective fronts on important and timely issues of their days. They will disband and regroup as needs arise. Thus even denominations will work more like social networks, cultivating disciples, artists, theologians, leaders and imaginations for survival in a world in need of the Gospel.