One of my favorite writers is Bishop Lesslie Newbegin. Lesslie Newbegin was a priest of the Church of Scotland who spent most of his ministry as a missionary in India. His time as a missionary led him to believe that the Church had forgotten its urgent mission to take the Gospel of Christ into the world, which he described as pagan with false gods. He believed that in the battle between Christ and culture there was no neutral ground. Of the many quotable things he said, I share with you the following.
Gospel Impact of a “Believe It and Live It” Congregation
I confess that I have come to feel that the primary reality of which we have to take into account in seeking for a Christian impact on public life is the Christian congregation. How is it possible that the gospel should be credible, that people should come to believe that the power which has the last word in human affairs is represented by a man hanging on a cross? I am suggesting that the only answer, the only hermeneutic of the gospel, is a congregation of men and women who believe it and live it.
This community will have the following six characteristics:
It will be a community of praise and thanksgiving.
It will be a community of truth.
It will be a community that does not live for itself but is deeply involved in the concerns of the neighborhood.
It will be a community where men and women are prepared for and sustained in the exercise of the priesthood of the world.
It will be a community of mutual responsibility. — That is, it must itself be a new social order.
It will be a community of hope.
(Source: Lesslie Newbigin The Gospel in a Pluralist Society – 1989.)
Difficult, But Necessary Questions to Answer
I believe Newbegin’s thoughts provide us a way to measure our church. Does our church reflect the six characteristics necessary to make an impact on the life of our community? And if it doesn’t, what can you do to change our church? And for that matter, do you believe the Gospel and live it?
I know that these are very difficult questions. Perhaps the difficulty of the questions should tell us how important they are to answer.
From God’s Word
Matthew 25: 40 “.. . ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’