Thursday, May 13, 2010

Ascended, not lost [UPDATED]

"Today the present ascended ministry of the vicarious humanity of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Spirit joining us to Christ's present ministry are largely lost to ministers' experience. The loss has two consequences: (1) the collapsing of ministry into a response to the moral influence of Jesus and (2) the reduction of ministry to programs, strategies and techniques that are theologically ambiguous. When the continuing and present ministry of Jesus Christ is lost, we are cast back on our own resources, and ministry becomes what we do."

Andrew Purves, The Crucifixion of Ministry (IVP 2007)

It's a dense quote so let me add a bit of explanation. Today is the church's Feast of the Ascension. Christ lives and by the power of the Holy Spirit continues his work on Earth and throughout the whole creation. He is not a dead historical figure. He is not a symbol upon which we draw. He is "the head of the church," although often ignored by that earthly body.

When the church lapses into language like, "If Jesus were here, he would probably..." it is no longer acting as his living, working body. When the church can't say, "Jesus is here, here's what he's doing, this is what he's calling us to do" it needs to shut up and listen.

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