Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Pattern for the Church

Last night I finished reading The Jesus Proposal by Rubel Shelly and John York.

Yes, I know; most folks in my tribe of Christianity started and finished reading it years ago when it was first published. (Those who are of a mind to seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, anyway.) But I am behind on my reading list by several years, and if it hadn't been for the fact that my LIFE Group at church is studying this tome, I might not have made time for it for a few more years.

You see, I've been trying to spend more time in scripture itself and less time with books telling me what the authors think it says.

The Jesus Proposal states many of the same conclusions that I have reached in my study of scripture and have blogged about here - and states them far more eloquently than I could.

(David U, it's quite possible that the book you are always nudging me to write has already been written!)

So I would encourage you to purchase or borrow it, read it, and weigh it carefully.

But first, read an article from the archives of New Wineskins that predates my tenure as its WebServant or Managing Editor: On Second Look, Maybe There Is a Pattern by Mark Black (January-August 2001 edition).

Meditate on the implications of the author's premise: that the companion works of Luke and Acts form a pattern for living and community set by Christ and imitated by His followers ... that the early church did virtually everything they did; taught everything they taught; helped in every way they helped because Jesus did so first.

Then, when you have a copy of The Jesus Proposal in your hands, think about the implications of living as part of that Christ-centered, Christ-fascinated church - and how much broader your definition of that church might become; how much more inclusive and how much more characterized by the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Now excuse me; I need to go back to the Leafwood Publishers site right now and order Shelly and York's followup work, The Jesus Community.

10 comments:

laymond said...

Keith, I know I have more faults than most and I ruffle more feathers than most by what I write, and I have no right absolutely none to criticize what others write or how they go about it.
That said I am human and things do bother me. As I see what the bible says is, we are to strive to become one.

Keith said, “Then, when you have a copy of The Jesus Proposal in your hands, think about the implications of living as part of that Christ-centered, Christ-fascinated church - and how much broader your definition of that church might become; how much more inclusive and how much more characterized by the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Keith also said, “Yes, I know; most folks in my tribe of Christianity started and finished reading it years ago when it was first published. (Those who are of a mind to seek to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, anyway.)”

Keith my problem is what we say not in what we do. I have no reason to believe anything other than, you want unity as much as anyone in the Church. Yet you claim membership in “A TRIBE” which by definition sets you apart from others. I don’t know, it just bothers me. And believe you me, you are not the only one who does this. God love you.

Keith Brenton said...

laymond, it bothers me, too.

A lot.

mmlace said...

Thanks for the link, Keith.

Really good article! Very helpful, actually, in seeing the many connections between Luke & Acts.

"So I would encourage you to purchase or borrow it, read it, and weigh it carefully."

So...

Though you're not willing to give $100.00, would you be willing to loan a book???

peculiarperspective said...

First let me say I, too, came late to reading The Jesus Proposal a couple of years ago. The reason was "that" group of people had "gone off the deep end," I was told, and so what they had to say was not only dangerous, but not worth the reading time.

I have to admit, having read that book and others from the liberal side of the CoC, the accusation of "change agent" is fairly accurate. It changed me, anyway, as I came to realize that "perfect understanding" of the new covenant is no more possible than perfect obedience to the old law.

Laymond's post does beg the question, though, about how you should identify yourself when others have taken it upon themselves to "disqualify" you from association with them and any other members of "the" church. Simple enough for those made to feel unwelcome who have accepted the invitation to go somewhere else. But what about the ones no longer particularly welcome, but who choose to stay anyway? Yes, I know, there is a tar bucket full of names we might be called ... but how do we refer to ourselves for the purpose of associational clarity?

I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the term "tribe," either, although it does have a sort of survivalistic, communal quality. I'm fond of "circle" myself, a concept, if not term, Jesus used for practical purposes in ministry, missionary extenstion and personal relationship, but certainly not to cause division.

Unity has been an elusive goal in large part because was tend to define the word as "sameness." Perhaps if we can agree on the circle idea, then we might explore the concentric possibility that despite our differences, we have the same center.

-Rob Woodfin

Bill said...

Excellent thoughts, Keith.

My sense is that you, Laymond and I come from pretty much the same perspective on this. While we might be bothered by where we come from, we do come from somewhere.

Your reflections seem to portray a coming to grips with this reality coupled with a passion for experiencing a different reality, one shaped by or, dare I say it, patterned after Jesus' way.

In general terms, awareness that we come from somewhere is not a problem. It's part of the solution, as long as we are on our way toward becoming what the Lord wants us to be.

From where I sit, I see this in both your post and Laymond's comment. May your tribe increase!

-bill

Keith Brenton said...

Lacey, as soon as my LIFE Group has finished its study, you have first dibs on my copy of the book. (It already has the mark of my dog's "Good Chewing Approved" award.)

Rob, I'm sorry I couldn't correct the grammar in your comment as your ingenious e-mail requested. Blogger is free, but not very flexible that way.

Bill, thanks for your comment. As the folks in AA say, recognizing that you have a problem is a good start.

Keith Brenton said...

Rob, let me add also that "tribe" isn't an ideal way to describe the fellowship of Churches of Christ. Since I'm not a network tv fan, the word holds less connotation of "vote-me-off-the-island" and more of "Israel," God's people broken out by tribes.

"Circle" is great, and reminds me of the poem that my childhood minister, David Bobo, used to recite: "He drew a circle that left me out: | "Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout" | But Love and I had the wit to win | We drew a circle that took him in."

Royce Ogle said...

I prefer to be defined by who I am rather than where I am. I am as independent in my thinking and ministry as coC churches are independent. My brothers and sisters I worship with in our coC church love me anyway and with that I really don't care what others call me.

mmlace said...

Sweet! Thanks, Keith. You'll just have to let me know when y'all are done with it!

David U said...

Keith, no.........still write THE book, but you can leave this part out if you choose to! :)

"The Jesus Proposal" is a wonderful book, and if I remember correctly I think I even enjoyed "The Jesus Community" even more.

Thanks bro,
DU