reJesus: A Wild Messiah for a Missional Church
by Frost and Hirsch
Frost and Hirsch love the church.
They also happen to be very critical of the church.
They also happen to be incredibly astute and wise interpreters of what is going on and what is going wrong with the church.
Critiques that are offered in the spirit in which they write and with the wisdom and missional perspective they have are always needed.
Frost and Hirsch have the spirit of reformers, of renewers, of reJesus'ers.
I have many friends who have that same spirit flowing through them. I have that same stuff in me. When the spirit of reform flows strongly in your ecclesiological veins, you easily see the flaws and weaknesses and deficiencies of the church AND you desperately want this addressed.
ecclesia semper reformanda
Here is a great quote from Michael Horton posted on the Reformed Reader blosite.
As Barth pointed out, ecclesia semper reformanda (the church always being reformed), divorced from the rest of the slogan, “according to the word of God,” identified the true church with modern progress – keeping up with the spirit of the age. I would add that the drive in Protestant bodies to conform the gospel to the spirit of the age has often invoked the Spirit apart from and even sometimes against the Word in its activity of “always reforming.” However, as Barth observes, “singing a new song” and “always being reformed” are only commendable goals if they are invitations to courageous and obedient faith rather than simply following the spirit of the age. It means that the church is alwaysbeing reformed, not reforming itself, submitting itself to the judgment of God’s Word and asking anew whether its confession and practice are in accord with Scripture. Only in this way is any church truly apostolic.
We should be "always reforming and always being reformed" according to the Scriptures. Whenever the church falls short of the picture described in the Bible, reform is needed. Let's be passionate about that reform.
Let's reform boldly but reform biblically. Back to the sources (hey, I think that as another rallying cry of the Reformation!)
Frost and Hirsch add a vital and CENTRAL idea to this reform/renewal movement in their book. All true reform and renewal begins with reJesus. Our deepest problem is Christological. We have distorted images of Jesus and these distorted images inevitably lead to ecclesial and missional flaws. Get the church right by getting Jesus right. Reform the church and renew the mission by a reJesusing.
This was really powerful for me in light of two things:
First, we just finished a series on Messy Stories From Mark where we looked at some very messy stories about Jesus. I found my theology and spirituality being challenged every week. Jesus is subversive and wild.
Second, I am working through the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius and am in Week Two (Week is a metaphor for Phase) which is devoted to many reflections on stories from the Gospels. Lectio divina readings and imaginative engagements with these stories is provocative and altering of my comfort zones and cosy pictures of a tame Jesus.
And through teachings and conversations, this wild, subversive Messiah has been messing with a bunch of my friends at church.
Now, what do we do with the spirit of reform when the church that needs it, refuses reform? Well, I don't think we bail or quit easily. I do think we first pay attention to our own journey. Are we being reformed and renewed, becoming more loving, holy, godly, full of grace... ? If we are, then we are positioned to speak prophetically to the church Jesus loves. We may need to do this for a long time. And it is hard to be a prophet for even a week. They do tend to stone prophets... the longer you hang around being prophetic, the more likely this happens.
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet for a reason.
He wept because his call to be a reformer went unheeded, except when it brought reprisals against him.
He wept because he loved the people of Israel and they were unrepentant.
He also wept because he had to pay a great price in his prophetic vocation.
He suffered. He suffered a lot. He suffered for a long time.
Critics who don't love the church are going to bail and quit, complain and whine.
Reformers who love the church are going to suffer and weep and prophesy and warn.
And maybe... sometimes... rejoice in the morning.
And maybe... sometimes... leave and be used by God for "new wineskin making."
Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International