Thursday, April 23, 2020

Is this church?

A loving person will trust God, and other people where this is warranted. They need not be naive, but neither should they be needlessly cynical or suspicious. In part this trust will be oriented toward the future. There will be an expectation of promises fulfilled and good things over the horizon——an attitude of hope. To live as love and within love is to be happy, although to be happy in a deep and profound way, not in a superficial fizzy one. We can speak here of joy. It is also to be fundamentally at peace with God and the cosmos, and to work for peace where people are disrupting and sabotaging this. Love is restorative. People who love respond in particular ways to those who are misbehaving or struggling. They are patient and kind. They are giving when this is needful, and they are generous with their time and resources. They are not violent or coercive, actions that violate loving relationality at a very fundamental level. Conversely, they are gentle and self-controlled. All of this activity—what we might call love in action—constitutes goodness. We see Paul thinking in these terms in his letter to the Galatians:
the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (Gal. 5:22-23)
But someone might ask me, is this really what church is all about? Is church basically ethical? Is it focused on how we behave and relate to one another? Is this it?

If we turn to the earliest Christian community we know about from Paul, the Thessalonians, the short answer is “yes, it is.”—Paul: An Apostle’s Journey, 65–66

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