A New Community

100 days and counting…

That is how long we have been, more or less, locked down. I never expected it. Yet, here we are, over three months into what appears to be a new normal. And in the background, thrumming away like evil crickets, are the pandemic, rioting, anger, judgment, and political rage.

I wish it would stop.

But it shows no sign of stopping. Every time I venture out, I see people walking around with masks on to protect themselves from the toxic environment. Look at it from the other direction and we are protecting others from ourselves and our pathologies. The world has gone septic and there does not seem to be a remedy. 

I will say this about quarantine, it gives one time to think. In the process, I have come to wonder if I have anything to offer in a social climate that reflects nothing like the gospel of peace. My wondering has led me to a conclusion: As followers of Jesus we are now being called to a separate peace and a new community. No more business as usual.

To write those words causes a reaction in me. They feel like exaggeration. Hyperbole. Things will calm down. No need to imagine a future much different than we have known. But I am not so sure. Societies experience corrosive seasons that fundamentally change them. At present, symbols of national heritage are being indiscriminately torn down and there is no guarantee that they will be replaced with anything. Chop away at the roots of a tree and the tree dies, topples over. If the church is too dependent on the tree, she may topple with it. 

Peter the apostle, wondered in his second letter to the church,

“Since all these things are to [be destroyed] in this manner, what sort of people must we be, conducting our lives in holiness and godliness, while waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God?”

As reactionary as it may sound, I believe we have come to the time of ecclesia, that is the calling out of an assembly. The old American church has been too dependent on the culture in which it was formed. That culture, in ways both subtle and obvious, is turning against it. A friend shared this quote in his Facebook feed:

Some people aren’t loyal to you … they are loyal to their need of you … Once their needs change, so does their loyalty.

I think this is true of societies; of twenty-first century America. The church is not needed unless it is willing to reflect the changing values of the culture—not even wanted. Whatever loyalty the society once showed the church is dissolving. Moreover, the ecclesia must not show loyalty to any cause but the cause of Christ. That is why it is very unlikely that the new community, the ecclesia, will be tolerated. In this season, to be focused on Christ alone will be seen as disloyal.

The church is nearing rocky shoals. If she doesn’t come round she will be driven aground. So, come round she must. The church must set a course for open water where she is not in danger of shipwreck on these shores. It must be her own course and not some other creed or cause. She must plot a course for the Kingdom.