“That’s the way God does things—he critiques by creating. He shows us what’s wrong by giving us a model of what’s right. Think about the incarnation of Jesus: God the Son becoming man, taking on human flesh, and showing us perfect humanity. God “critiqued” what was wrong with sinful humanity by showing us, in Christ, what humanity was originally intended to be and what redeemed humanity will one day be again.
The church joins with Christ in showing the world what’s wrong with it. Christ, the Head of the church, did it by demonstrating what humanity is intended to be; the church, as Christ’s body, does it by demonstrating what human community is intended to be. We work at becoming together what God wants the rest of the world to become. The purpose of God’s people is to show a watching world what will one day fill the whole earth.
If Christians care to make a difference in this world, it has less to do with gaining political power or electing the right officials and far more to do with actually living out our new life together in this new community—the church—before the watching world. Our best approach for reaching people in today’s world is living with the people we’re trying to reach and showing them what human life and community look like when the gospel is believed and embraced.
God’s great evangelistic tool is the church—this new, counter-cultural community in which the fellowship of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit comes to expression in the unity, community, and joy of God’s people. As we live together in a way that’s consistent with who we’ve been remade to be, we become a blessing to the world by showing them how sweet life can be in a community of individuals who love one another, care for one another, defer to one another, are patient with one another, and serve one another. The world will take notice of a community of men and women who refreshingly and joyfully bear one another’s burdens and who actively look to lay down their lives for others in need because Jesus laid down his life for them. When the world sees that Christians want to help people because God has helped them, they’ll begin to ask what makes us so different. A faithful presentation of the gospel to our world, in other words, requires Christian community on full display.
And, as I reminded the staff of our one new church yesterday, it begins with us.”