The absolute became our contemporary; God became man for 30 years or so, in order to bring us to a new dimension of life, through knowing him. But how can you demonstrate so staggering a claim? How can you bring it home to others? The answer is, by witness.
For us Christians, all truth is "relative," relative to this Jew named Jesus. We really do not know what the world is, much less where it is headed, until we know him.
I think if I had to preach week in and week out, especially in a culture saturated with entertainment, I would tack a reminder to myself in the pulpit: "It's about God, stupid!"
We should be less concerned about making churches full of people and more concerned about making people full of God.
God is active in the world at all times—but God acts through people. In Jesus, his Messiah, God acted with finality, and this messianic action of God continues in the church. The church is the place where the messianic renewal of the world, which God began irreversibly in Jesus, must go forward. That is the essence of the church. That is its calling.
The scope of who it is that God means to invite to the feast, you see, is not ours to define. We are not put in charge of the guest list.
If rich Christians today would only practice solidarity with poor Christians—let alone the billions of poor people who are not Christians—this in itself would be a powerful missionary testimony.
When the heathen hear God's oracles on our lips they marvel at their beauty and greatness. But afterwards, when they mark that our deeds are unworthy of the words we utter, they turn from this to scoffing, and say that it is a myth and a delusion.
Past Reflections columns include:
On Enemies (January 8, 2002)
Life After Christmas (December ...1