We’re discussing Scot McKnight’s latest book Kingdom Conspiracy: Returning to the Radical Mission of the Local Church.
So back to Hauerwas —
“The heart of the gospel is that you don’t know Jesus without the witness of the church. It’s always mediated.”
You see, the gospel is the “good news of the kingdom” (Matt 4:23: 9:35; 24:14). And so if the church doesn’t demonstrate the good news, there is no good news. To the extent we Christian fail to live Acts 2, we contradict the gospel. Hence,
“The first task of the church is to be the church.”
We might prefer a country club with a steeple. Or even a civic club that does good things for the sake of being good. But the gospel calls us to a very particular, very special way of living with each other — and if we fail to get it done, we shame the gospel.
And perhaps the first symptom will be an inability to evangelize — either for lack of desire, feeling that we have very little to offer, or because our churches contradict our teaching.
“The church doesn’t have a social strategy, the church is a social strategy.”
How do we make the world a better place? How do we change the culture? Well, we are not called to these things. They may result from what we’re called to, but they are not the goal.
Yes, the Bible frequently speaks of “good works.” Amen. But never “good works to transform the culture of the world so that the realm of Satan becomes a more pleasant place to live.” Rather, the good works must point toward Jesus — and his body, bride, and household. They are inseparable. After all, if the church isn’t preaching Jesus to the lost, just who do we expect to do it for us?
No, as the bride of Christ, our first goal is to be his suitable helper — a good wife who never brings shame to Jesus but instead brings him praise and glory. We need to learn to be the church — the kingdom of God, not yet fully realized, but sufficiently filled with his glory that the lost see Jesus in us.
And when that happens, the idea that we should introduce people to Jesus, not the church, will seem just as absurd as it is. We are the body of Christ. We may not be very good at it, but we’re the only body he has.
If we bring people to meet the church, surely they’ll see the church pointing toward Jesus in everything that they are, say, and do. Surely.