Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Church's Job

It's interesting, because I will hear over and over people talking about different things that the "Church" needs to do.  It needs become a moral force in society, it needs to feed the poor, it needs to do X, Y, and Z.  And then of course, there are the Church bureaucrats who will come in and make up new rules for how the Church can make all these things happen.

The Church has one job.  It is to listen.  It is to listen to the voice of Christ Jesus, her Husband. 

The problem is too often the folks in the Church are not content to let the Church simply listen.  Instead of just living out their own vocations, they want to make their own vocation the roll or duty of "The Church".  They want to use the Church as a tool - perhaps to enforce their own ideals of right or wrong, creating rules for others to live by and saying, "Ah, but the Church says."  Misses the point -- what does Christ say?  Some want the Church imprimatur for their own works of love and mercy -- but again, why is that needs?  Why do you think the rest of the body must do the work of the hand, or the foot - be whom Christ has made you to be and walk in the works He has prepared for you.

The Church's focus is to be this - to hear the life giving Word of Christ.  To receive His gifts.  To delight in the fact that He has washed her.

Now, do individual Christians from within the Church have things to do?  Of course, we are in the world, and thus we are given to love our neighbors.  But again - that's you, that's me, that's our own thing.  I am not the Church -- and it's folly when I try to act as though I am.


Myrtle said...

This is my second favorite post of yours of late, behind the sad and lonely Christmas one. I have thought about it over and over and over again.

Tonight, one thought came to mind, and I wondered if it is better to post here or email you. Neither seems my place. Yet I am thinking things because of what you wrote and thought, perhaps, engaging you about it might be proper or at least not improper. [Oh, how vocation confuses me!]

So, I LOVE what you wrote about the Church's job being to listen. You could write this many, many times, if you were writing to me. Saying such is sweet, sweet Gospel to me. It is telling me that it is okay to long to *hear* the Living Word as much as I do.

But the thing I have been thinking about is where you say that people want to use the Church as a tool and misses the point of what does Christ say. By this I mean that I have been thinking about those who are using the Church as a tool under the guise of asking what does Christ say. For example, those pushing for women's ordination.

I mean, if you ask, what does Christ say, for me, being still a discombobulated ex-evangelical, I find myself first reading the Christian Book of Concord and then going back to the Bible, because I have so much law in my head erroneously taught as Gospel.

So, does asking what does Jesus say mean 1) Read the Living Word...not commentaries and theologians and Christian authors, but the actual Living Word... AND 2) Teach the pure doctrine?

Because of that it is the answer, then something like women's ordination is just a tool of misuse. The Bible is clear and the pure doctrine is clear. Raising the issue is not listening, but arguing.

But something like liturgy vs contemporary worship, to me, would mean asking what does Jesus say because the heart of the matter there is what our ... position? role? ... in Divine Service.

Only, then again, is seems the Living Word and the pure doctrine is pretty clear on this. I am better with proof texts from the BOC, so I will give an example that comes to mind a lot for me:

"But the Holy Spirit carries on His work without ceasing to the Last Day. For that purpose He has appointed a congregation upon earth by which He speaks and does everything. For He has not yet brought together all His Christian Church or granted all forgiveness. Therefore, we believe in Him who daily brings us into the fellowship of this Christian Church through the Word. Through the same Word and the forgiveness of sins He bestows, increases, and strengthens faith. So when He has done it all, and we abide in this and die to the world and to all evil, He may finally make us perfectly and forever holy. Even now we expect this in faith through the Word." ~BOC, LC, II, 61-62

If the Holy Spirit is responsible for the creation, care, sustenance, and growth of the Church and faith, and He does this through the Living Word and the Sacraments, then moving to contemporary worship with its focus on participation and positive experiences and ways individuals can express their devotion and participate in worshipping God is actually moving against the Living Word and the pure doctrine.

So, then, is it not really asking what does Jesus say, but using another tool for an agenda of man?

Myrtle said...

I am sure I am making a mess of this, but, to me, you post says the Church's job is to listen. Just listen. Simple. Listen so that you can receive. Passive. Not active in a contributory manner. Which, then, to me, renders moot pretty much most of the arguing I see online about the Church and what we should be doing.

Where, though, does the teaching of vocation come into play? Sunday School? Catechesis? Home instruction? Are those the places where the ... discussions and different approaches come into play?

I suppose another way to put it is something else I have been thinking about that came to mind after reading this blog post:

All over the Bible, our Triune God calls out, "Come to Me." On the surface, it would seem that is a call for us to go to Him. Only the coming to Him, as least in my understanding of the pure doctrine, is not really us coming to Him but His coming to us. Does that make sense? To put it another way, God saying, "Come to Me," is actually His saying, "I am coming to you...let Me come to not despair/fear/worry/etc. for I have/am/will come to you."

If that really is the case, then stuff like liturgical dance, drama, interactive elements, and such are all actually obstacles that hinder the two ways God promised He will come to us: Word and Sacrament.

Finally, I will say, that I have been thinking about the Word being spoken in the even in them I am to listen....