The church is God's space to make change: #Wives/WomenLivesMatter, #ChildrenLivesMatter, and #SlavesLivesMatter
When the church, a church, or Christians align with a political agenda (right or left), there is great risk that innocent people will be put in harms way and, most certainly, whatever power is shared (between party and church et al.) is earthly power (but can be confused as God’s blessing). Perhaps this is why Jesus didn’t challenge his new flock to take over the Roman or Jewish government or defeat the High Priest or Caesar. The NT seems to present the church’s revolutionary power within a different model, a wholly other platform and venue. It is in the arena (literally) where Christians met certain death wherein the church had a platform for cultural and social change.
Despite the musings of some that the early Jesus movement was a protest against an oppressive Empire, the apostolic and early church lacked the power and any public platform for social and cultural change. However, the household temple-church filled in Spirit was and is the platform for making known God’s cosmic reconciliation through which cultural and social change is inaugurated in the world, particularly the worlds of our neighborhoods and communities. The local church, that is, gathered congregations of people who identify with the Lamb who was slain and follow in the ways of Jesus, is the space where God brought and still seeks to bring about cultural and social change. Church—more so, local churches—is how God changed an empire and defeated Caesar. We need to consider this when asked, "How does Christianity address the issues pressing upon us today" or "What should Christians do to confront the issues of race, abortion, poverty, greed . . . ?"
Christians did not “take to the streets,” but they made known God’s cosmic reconciliation as household temple-churches through the reoriented relationships of reciprocity as described in Ephesians 5:21-6:9. Paul called the gathered Christians, in particular Gentile Christian men (i.e., the husbands-fathers-masters), to act against their own social self-interests and against the norms of the dominant culture, literally taking up arms against the empire by adopting the reconciled, sacrificial love of Messiah Jesus, demonstrating reciprocity to wives, children, and slaves. Paul advocated the first #Wives/WomenLivesMatter, #ChildrenLivesMatter, and #SlavesLivesMatter (right there in Ephesians 5:21-6:9). The church venue was the incubator and model for systemic social change.
The local church must now live “no longer as the Gentiles walk” (Ephesians 4:17). Paul did not seek to overthrow the authority structures of the culture in which the church found itself. But he does instruct the multihouseholds of God, the all-welcoming worshipping temple-church venues, in a new way of relating to one another in Messiah. This is one of the strongest arguments against homogenous churches and for multi-demographic churches.
"The 'I'm spiritual but not religious' mantra has a great tendency toward selfishness and superficial morality. When we submit to something outside of ourselves, we are actually able to encounter the good, bad, and ugly in another person; we're actually able to encounter another person -- even if it hurts, and even if they support Trump" (Craig Luekens). Full HuffPost article >>
*Craig Luekens is pastor of the Goatville, the afternoon church of Christ Presbyterian Church (New Haven, CT)
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.