THE CHURCH - ITS CONFRONTATIONAL PRESENCE IN THE WORLD

The presence of the church in the world is confrontational: it exposes the world’s ignorance of God and rejection of God; it exposes the sin of the world; it exposes the fact that the world lives under the wrath and judgment of God. To a large extent this exposure and this confrontation are automatic, occurring without any explicit verbal witness undertaken by the church. The very existence of the church as a people who acknowledge God condemns all who still reject God. The very faith of believers exposes and condemns the unbelief of those who are still unbelievers.

The church consists of those who have chosen to enter the narrow gate and walk the narrow, difficult road, and who, by this choice, have silently expressed their judgment on the wide gate and easy road which the multitudes follow to destruction.

The church consists of those who have identified themselves with Jesus Christ, and who, by this choice, silently confront the world with his exclusive and divisive statements that he alone is the light, he alone is the truth, he alone is the way to the one true God.

The church consists of those who have identified with the death of Christ, and who by this identification silently proclaim to the world that this death, this substitutionary sacrifice, is the only means of spiritual life and salvation, because this death exposes the impotence of all supposed human merit.

This confrontation and exposure is intensified when the church engages in verbal witness and proclamation.

Thus the Bible tells us that:   

  • Allegiance to Christ creates divisions [Luke 12:51 -53]
  • The presence of the church in the world is like the presence of salt and light [Matthew 5:13 ,14]
  • The presence of Christ and the words of Christ in the world mean judgment on the world [John 8:26 ; 9:39 ; 12:47 -48]
  • The Gospel proclaimed by the church exposes the foolishness of the world’s wisdom [1Corinthians 1:20 ]
  • The Spirit of God, indwelling the church, convicts the world of its multi-dimensional guilt and affirms its judgment [John 16:7-11].
  • The church has a politically and religiously disturbing presence in the world [Acts 17:6; 24:5]
  • The church is to reject friendship with the world because friendship with the world is enmity with God [James 4:4; 1John 2:15 -17]
  • The mandate of the church includes the exposure of the darkness and depravity of the world [Ephesians 5:11-14; Philippians 2:15-16]

This confrontational presence of the church in the world is both a heavy commitment and a difficult challenge: to honour Christ in the world by our attitudes, words and actions, and at the same time to love the world as he loved the world. Here in this commitment, in this challenge, the church must strive to emulate Christ: to be as he was, full of grace and full of truth [John 1:14].

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2009