Jesus’ humanity is crucial in our ministry. The world’s impact is towards dehumanization and the church living counter culturally or being a contrast society will counteract that trend, towards humanizing society. It is the humanity of Christ that gives us the template for biblicality, whether or not we are presenting a true gospel and whether our gospel is able to overcome the worldly trend of dehumanization. We cannot read the bible meaningfully unless we become fully human. In fact, when we are fully human, it is then that we become truly holy. And yet, one huge way the world is dehumanizing us is in its individualism and social fragmentation and isolation.
[Facebook and social network: is it community or virtual only? is virtual real or illusion only?
one expert says we equate now connection with conversation. in conversation we cannot determine what we will say and how the interaction will work out or end. boring and repetitious activities no longer form part of our interactions. things have to be always lively and interesting in the net. while in real life, it is not. real is ordinary boring and repetitive. we also cannot present ourselves the way we want in real life. but internet connection is more about endless self promotion, we edit and delete which we cannot do with real relationships and conversations. we make sure our photos and profiles are perfect and expect more from technology and less from each other. there is the fallacy that since we are connected we are no longer alone.]
We are now being pressured to define our humanity outside of the context of community. when we look at Jesus’ humanity, we see the template for our own humanness. but still we prefer to see that humanity from a solo context, of individualism. we forget that we become more human through community. Jesus had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come, and be partitioned to all the people of God. Jesus could not demonstrate community alone.
The Body was formed in order that now the Kingdom could be clearly displayed through the relationships of redeemed sinful people, who forgive each other 70 x 7 and share their food to those who are hungry. without community, the message of the gospel could not be seen. the work of the church thus is to counteract this dehumanization and promote humanness, the type shown by Jesus, through love. and such humanness must be in the context of community, in which there is now no more male, female, Jew, Gentile, rich, poor, free, slave, white, black, etc. in short, a gospel of reconciliation. now because of individualism it is no longer vital or critical that the people of God pray the prayer of unity of Jesus. but with the renewed church, our deepest and most important prayer will be that, that we will be one united in Christ. and breaking apart dividing or fighting or separating will cause the greatest alarm among us. what we need to grieve is that we have learned to survive alone, apart from community.
Within ourselves, as CS Lewis pointed out, we have also learned to survive without the intimacy of Jesus. separating and dividing and leaving has become too easy. we need to go back to St. Benedict’s rule of permanence which he introduced to the monastic movement of his day; that when one joins a community, he joins for good, he will grow old there, and die there and be buried there. Bonhoeffer should be our guide on relationship, when he said, the closer we are to one another the clearer Christ becomes. it is as we move towards each other that we counteract the dehumanizing spirit of this world. it is when we hold hands together that we regain our humanity.
There are two kinds of people in the world, the pyramid builders and the relationship builders. both are good and godly but both need each other. we cannot all be just pyramid builders nor all be relationship builders. great conventions of Christians of all nations converging in Lausanne or in London for a conference is the work of pyramid builders, they raise lots of funds and coordinate with thousands of people around the globe, which the relationship builders cannot do. Most of these pyramid builders live in America. on the other hand, america is killing all its relationship builders. as i stand in the food lines in Seattle, i meet all the relationship builders, broken-hearted people, who cannot endure the rat race, and who have dropped out and failed. each day america kills one of these broken-hearted people and someday there will be none left. it is the broken-hearted people who build communities.
The gospels only mention the church twice and that is in Matthew 16 and Matthew 18. in 16 God describes the church as a great army, able to kick ass and open gates by force. this is the story of the pyramid builders, planting churches worldwide, in the thousands, building big cathedrals, doing big projects. in 18 God describes the church as a great family, He promises all His resources for the church and guarantees that no relationship problem will destroy the church. thus he says, whatever we decide on earth it will be done in heaven, whatever two or three agree on, God will be on their side. There is nothing that God will not give in order to solve our relationship problems. Dividing and leaving our communities should be the last resort. the great army and the great family are two sides of the same coin. without the other we only have a caricature of the true church, the true body of Christ.
Today, there are lots of people in american going the other way, the reactionary way, swing the extreme side of the pendulum. many seek community and relationship and abandon the building of empires. this is a caricature of the church, the body of Jesus. the swing to the extreme is wrong. we need to hold on to both, a balance.
We cannot preach the gospel unless we are also living counter culturally, opposing and undermining the dehumanizing work of Satan. It is like one step forward and two steps backwards. We think we have won when we share the gospel not knowing that we also have lost in the cultural currents. We may have converted the person to Jesus Christ but we may have made him more American than Christian in the process.
China is now the largest Christian nation in the world. But soon, it will also be the largest American nation – speaking English, eating MacDonald’s, watching Hollywood movies, and investing in Wall Street.
We need to share the gospel but at the same time we need to build a contrast society that will fight back the current of world values of materialism, individualism, secularism and consumerism.