The Urgency of Authenticity

Posted: November 23, 2010 in books, christianity, church, evangelism, gospel, review

God has called his new community, the church, to the work of proclaiming the gospel to the world.  This proclamation is for the purpose of making new disciples, people who have been redeemed by Jesus and see themselves as “on mission” with and for him.  However, in their book Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis remind us that gospel mission cannot be divorced from gospel community.  They write,

“Our conviction is that Christians are called to a dual fidelity – fidelity to the core content of the gospel accompanied by fidelity to the primary context of a believing community.  To ignore or minimize either is not merely to hamstring the task of evangelism; it is to effectively deconstruct it.”

Jesus’s own words testify to this truth.  In John 13, immediately following his prediction that he is about to die, Jesus gives his disciples a “new commandment”: that they love one another, just as he has loved them.  Jesus says that their love for one another will be a testimony to the world that they are indeed his followers.  Chester and Timmis quote D.A. Carson, who writes,

“The new command is not only the obligation of the new community to respond to the God who has loved them and set them free by the offering of his Son.  Neither is it merely their response to his gracious choice of them as his people.  It is a privelege, which when rightly lived out, proclaims the true God before a watching world.”

The authors go on to write,

“Historically, evangelicals have been so committed to the centrality of the gospel word in evangelism that they can be uneasy about ‘conceding’ the centrality of the gospel community.  Talk of the gospel community authenticating the gospel word carries a certain amount of unease.  But this is precisely how the Bible describes the people of God.”

“In view of contemporary culture, we should not underestimate the need for authenticity among the people of GodPeople have rejected the gospel word in part because they have not been exposed to credible gospel community.  Churches have often stood aloof from society.  Evangelicals have tended to run away from marginalized urban areas to populate more comfortable suburbs.  Christians are often perceived as irrelevant and self-righteous.  If these perceptions have any basis, we should not point the finger too quickly at people’s spiritual blindness.  Jesus gives the world the right to judge the sincerity of our profession on the basis of our love for each other.  In other words, we should face with humility the challenge of unbelief.  Our response should be one of repentance and faith resulting in lives of authentic corporate existence lived boldly before and skeptical and apathetic world.”

May we humbly confess our sin to God and ask that he make us the loving, authentic, powerful community that he has called us to be.  Let us also pray that he would give us a passion for the lost, that we might take the message of reconciliation to the world, inviting all to join our family, as sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters in Christ.

  1. suebarnett says:

    Hi. I’m sorry my own comments aren’t open, I’m too insecure and volatile to cope with what might come.

    Forgive me too for not having enough focus to read your whole post. I’m full of self pity about the fact that I am 50 today and nowhere in my life. If I would stop talking like that I know I might be ale to release the happiness which is also there, underneath.

    I wanted to comment because my attention was arrested by one word which I have often heard used as though it means ‘destruction’, and that is ‘deconstruction’.

    First of all, if Ecclesiastes 3 is anything to go by, even destruction is not a bad word. It say there is a time for it. Not THINGS that need to be destroyed, but a time for destruction (or breaking down, or killing).

    But deconstruction is what you do to a machine when it goes wrong, to find out what is wrong and put it right.

    Deconstruction isn’t a bad thing. It’s a positive thing.

    With respect, not having read all of the post I won’t go any further, because it might already be covered.

    Grace and peace.

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