THE CHURCH – ITS RADICAL PRINCIPLES, PRIORITIES AND PERSPECTIVES

As we have seen, the church is distinct from the world in terms of its identity and its relationship with God, and this distinction puts the church in an inevitable division from the world and confrontation with the world. Now we must also add that the church is distinct from the world in terms of its principles, priorities and perspectives.   Although the church is intended by God to be missional and to reflect the incarnational presence of Christ in the world we must never assume that this means identifying with the principles, priorities and perspectives of the world. The Bible is very firm about this. For example: 
  • Jesus Christ deliberately rejected the world’s priorities and methodology [Matthew 4:1-11] and he commands the church to follow him.

 

  • Believers are commanded to reject the performance-based religious principles on which the religious world operates [1Corinthians 1:26-31; Colossians 2:8,20-23].
 
  • Believers are commanded to so live that they shine like lights in the darkness of the world [Matthew 5:13-16; Ephesians 5:8,9; Philippians 2:15].
 
  • Believers are commanded not to be squashed into the world’s mould, but to be transformed by the renewing of their minds [Romans 12:1-2].
 
  • Believers are commanded to ‘put off’ their sinful attributes and actions and to put on the moral attributes and actions which the indwelling Holy Spirit is working to produce in them [Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:22-5: 21; Colossians 3:5-17].
 
  • Believers are commanded to no longer think in the futile, darkened ignorant mindset of the ‘Gentiles’ [Ephesians 4:17-19].
 
  • Believers are to say ‘no’ to sin and all moral corruption [Titus 2:12; James 1:27; 2Peter 1:4; 2:20].
 
  • Believers are to live as aliens and strangers in the world abstaining from the sins of the world [1Peter 2:11].
 
  • The world is in such direct opposition to the church that it is something that the church is said to ‘overcome’ by its belief in Jesus Christ [1John 5:4,5].

 The church is thus challenged and commanded to embrace and to implement radical principles, priorities and perspectives which expose and express its confrontational distinction from the world, including its confrontational distinction from the religious world. In this it must follow Christ, who, although he identified with us with great empathy and compassion, did not identify with our principles, priorities and perspectives. Rather he identified with the principles, priorities and perspectives of his Father in heaven.

Even so must the church.

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009