(excerpts from a sermon preached March 10, 2013 at First United Mennonite Church in Vancouver, BC- based on 2 Cor. 5:16-21)
What would make it necessary for the church to be reconciled to God?
We are experiencing an interesting time in history: a time of global ferment and reorientation. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy and Idle No More Movements and student protest in Quebec, we are witnessing a new generation of global citizens demanding more equitable systems. They are questioning the need for an economic growth dependent on insatiable consumption. A more global sensitive and savvy population is beginning to question their appetites and asking economic systems, corporations and governments to do the same.
In this global reassessment people are also noting consumption patterns and values displayed by faith communities. They expect the church to be a contrast to unbridled appetite. They expect the church to exhibit values of global justice and communal welfare. Perhaps this is the call to be reconciled to God’s purposes for the church.
Sometimes success can blind the church to God’s passion. Sometimes achievement can numb spiritual sensitivities. Comfort and security can cause the church to forget the primary purpose of our identity as the People of God. God’s passion for reconciliation should seep through every pour of God’s People. It is our distinguishing characteristic. It is what sets us apart.
As the world marches to the economic tune of selfish consumption, God’s People dance to the songs of sacrifice. As greed hums its lullaby, God’s People rock to songs of constraint and generosity.
The ministry of reconciliation to God and others is our primary purpose as the People of God. Sometimes I wonder if the prosperity of past Christendom has misplaced our calling as God’s People – lost it in the closets of our own economic success. We are no longer poor immigrants or persecuted refugees. We thank God for that, as we should. But sometimes, without realizing it, and never intending it, prosperity replaces passion and comfort replaces compassion. Sometimes, it is necessary for God’s People to be reconciled to God so that they can once again become passionate ambassadors for the glorious surrender to God’s love.
The call of the apostle is as relevant to us today as it was to the church in Corinth. Can we step out of the confines of comfort? Can we break away from the shelter of prosperity and dance in the sweet surrender to God’s compassion and grace? If so, we will recover again our roles as ambassadors of Christ – and God will make His appeal of passion and grace through us.