Monday, November 29, 2004

With the beginning of Advent we are concentrating again on the coming of Jesus - which raises a host of meaty theological subjects. One is the unmistakable self-sacrifice in the kenosis (emptying - Phil. 2:7) of the incarnation, which leads to the cross.

Christians have been self-sacrificing, but for the wrong thing. I believe that in recent decades believers have been called to give themselves sacrificially to the church - when they should have been been giving themselves sacrificially to the world. This has led to an institutionally-oriented and self-serving church without a meaningful redemptive witness in the world. The ministry of reconciliation occurs when the self-sacrifice is made for the world, and not for the collective identity of the Christian organization. Preachers are to blame for calling believers to support the church and for seeking to build enterprises - which has a self-serving link to their own "careers".

While I won't lay all the blame on professional ministers, a good portion belongs there. A desire for success, a tepid modern theology which is dependent on human efforts, and a institutional mindset derived from corporate models have all contributed to a Christian community that practices self-sacrifice for itself instead of the world to which and for which Christ came. Maybe this season of Advent will call us back to the incarnation as a vision for being a missionary movement for the sake of others.

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