What difference does the presence of Christ make?
September 30, 2011
What would change if churches took more seriously Luke's message - the Holy Spirit's message - that the life of the church is the continuing teaching and doing ministry of Jesus Christ, the risen and exalted Lord?...Dennis Johnson, The Message of Acts in the History of Redemption
How would an awareness of Christ's presence affect all the issues surrounding the control and direction of the church: planning, strategizing, budgeting, chain-of-command, church councils, etc.? Is it clear from Acts that it would not mean dismantling all structures of human leadership, leaving the church as an amorphous, emotion-driven mass of spontaneity, flowing in whatever direction the Spirit seems to 'lead.'...The presence of Jesus among us by his Spirit does not exempt us from careful planning and courageous leadership. But it does demand that we not take our plans too seriously. We dare not trust in our plans for success, nor can we 'bend' God's word or our consciences to fit what seems expedient. Do church leaders so idolize their own control of the church that the Spirit's gifts to all its members are shackled? Do we resent the delays and detours that the Lord of the church may decide to inject into our itineraries for church growth? The presence of Jesus demands that we formulate and reformulate our fallible plans in order to keep in step with his invincible plan. We must stay alert to unplanned, unexpected opportunities for witness and service, remaining patient and full of hopes when encountering setbacks, and being sensitive to the surprising resources he gives to all his people.