I read Lesslie Newbigin’s chapter on Leadership from his book The Gospel in a Pluralist Society once every few months. It’s that good. Here is an excellent excerpt:
“The task of ministry is to lead the congregation as a whole in a mission to the community as a whole, to claim its whole public life, as well as the personal lives of all its people, for God’s rule. It means equipping all the members of the congregation to understand and fulfill their several roles in this mission through their faithfulness in their daily work. It means training and equipping them to be active followers of Jesus in His assault on the principalities and powers which he has disarmed on his cross. And it means sustaining them in bearing the cost of that warfare…”
Here, he is trying to emphasize that gospel calls all of us to a new way of living and the task/calling of the minister is to keep the community focused on that very thing. He continues later in the chapter,
“[Jesus’ call to repentance] involves, in fact, proving that the world’s idea of what is sin and righteousness is wrong. The conversion for which Jesus calls, and which the Spirit now effects in those who turn to him, is a radical new way of understanding: it involves at the same time a demand for total-self-surrender and the gift of utter security. It involves both calling and promise, demand and gift, at the same time. And it concerns the whole of life – the public life of the world, the nation, the factory, the society, and the personal life of each believer. There can be no muffling of the call to conversion, but equally there can be no limiting its range, no offer of “cheap grace” which promises security without commitment to that mission for which Jesus went to the cross. There bearer of this call has to be a community which is both committed to that mission and also enjoying and celebrating that security.
One of the things I have been constantly challenged with is the way that so many of us seem to all too easily accept the way of the world without even knowing it. The gospel critiques our individualized life-styles and calls us to repentance. The gospel critiques our consumerism. And calls us to repentance. The gospel critiques our selfish way of life. And calls us to repentance. The gospel critiques our ignoring the poor. And, it calls us to repentance.
Sometimes I get sick of how long of a way I still have to go, especially in the areas I just mentioned.
That’s why I love what Newbigin says in this section. Yes, the gospel critiques the way of life in our (and all) society. But, at the same time, it brings us security, safety and the comfort of an all-loving God who embraces us and calls us His children.
May we continue to be people who are both painfully aware of how the culture infects our way of life and may we be actively repenting and walking in the way of the Kingdom. At the same time, may we be a people who are wonderfully aware of the all encompassing love of God. In the words of Paul, may we all be able to comprehend how deep, how wide, how high is the love of God.