Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Kingdom Work... for Christ's Sake

(Originally printed as an ecumenical column for The News Herald of Franklin, PA) 

I live in a community that is experiencing a decline in population. True. As it turns out, there is not a growth surge in Venango County, Pennsylvania. We are experiencing an economic depression. True. When colleagues ask have asked, during the last two years, if "you all are feeling the recession up there yet?" I've wanted to shake them. Seriously?

One might say that we cannot possibly expect the Christian church to be growing in the midst of those two facts. Absolutely false! Not only is that last statement false, but my friend, colleague, and priest, Bishop Sean Rowe, will tell you straight away, “that is a lie, straight from the pits of hell and Satan, himself.” Too many leaders in the church, too many members of the body of Christ, have bought the lie.

The time is at hand for all Christians (and frankly, each of us regardless of our faith tradition) to come to the aid of our brothers and sisters—in Christ, or whatever our belief—no matter our theology, Christology, denominational affiliation, or faith tradition. We must come to the aid of all creation and all created. The Church must thrive and grow—not for growth sake, for that is not of God, but for Christ’s sake.

As a leader in the Christian Church, I try hard to make my decisions based on two basic inquiries. I constantly ask myself two questions: “Who am I?” and “Whose am I?” If I am not able to respond to those questions with, “I am a child of God” and “I belong completely to Jesus Christ,” then I know I am missing the mark.

The Kingdom of God is at hand and we are equally responsible for being transformational leaders who provide an environment for transformational ministry to take place because we are God’s created. We may say we of the “X” community are not responsible for the “#1’s” because we do not believe “&.” Or we may say we of the “Y” community do not have to be a part of the lives of the “#2’s” because our theology states clearly, “%” (insert your community, church, denomination, particular individual or special interest group, and philosophy, dogma or theology).

But that just isn’t true. That’s a lie, straight from the pits of hell and Satan, himself, as well. (You might need to call that my personal opinion or the way I interpret Holy Scripture.) I cannot deny, however, Peter, the apostle, makes quite clear, in St. Luke’s book The Acts of the Apostles, that God shows no partiality. (10:34) Neither can I deny Jesus Christ calls me to love, and love equally.

Sometimes I think I do a good job of inviting all faith traditions into conversation about my understanding of God’s work in the world. At other times I must embrace first that I am a priest in the Christian Church. I am owned wholly by Jesus Christ. I’m all in—all in for the Kingdom here on earth and the Kingdom eternal. I haven’t bought the lie. I believe we can bring all the goodness of the Church to a world that is starving for belonging, longing to believe and needing desperately to become members of the Body.

I believe we must do it together. I believe we must do it because of who we are and Whose we are. I believe for Christ’s sake and I believe for all God’s created.

Join us in worship at 7:30, 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings as we strive to follow the example and teachings of Jesus Christ as his disciples in all we do, growing more and more into people of faith, hope and love, nourished by God's Word and Sacraments.

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