Living as Christ’s New Community (Colossians 3:5-17)

Living as Christ’s New Community (Colossians 3:5-17)
CrossWay Community Church
September 18th, 2022

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You should “church shop,” so says Screwtape

“My Dear Wormwood,

You mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. May I ask what you are about? Why have I no report on the causes of his fidelity to the parish church? Do you realize that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.

The reasons are obvious. In the first place the parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity the Enemy [God] desires. The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all goes well, into a coterie or faction.

In the second place, the search for a ‘suitable’ church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise—does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in non-commenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going on. (You see how grovelling, how unspiritual, how irredeemably vulgar He is!) This attitude, especially during sermons, creates the condition (most hostile to our whole policy) in which platitudes can become really audible to a human soul. There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper. So pray bestir yourself and send this fool the round of the neighboring churches as soon as possible. Your record up to date has not given us much satisfaction.

Your affectionate uncle,
Screwtape”

—C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Marks of a Church (Diagram)

The following is a chart that seeks to capture the logic of the following confession from Article 29 of The Belgic Confession:

The true church can be recognized if it has the following marks: The church engages in the pure preaching of the gospel; it makes use of the pure administration of the sacraments as Christ instituted them; it practices church discipline for correcting faults. In short, it governs itself according to the pure Word of God, rejecting all things contrary to it and holding Jesus Christ as the only Head. By these marks one can be assured of recognizing the true church—and no one ought to be separated from it.

Marks of a Church

Preaching the Gospel – What creates the church, a community of those who believe the gospel.

Administration of the Ordinances – What marks out and makes known the boundaries of that believing community.

  • Baptism = the initiating rite to mark off those who belong to Christ and his church.
  • The Lord’s Supper = the ongoing rite which continually marks off those who constitute the church.

Exercising Church Discipline – What maintains the proper boundaries of the church, i.e., those who demonstrate lives consistent with their profession of faith in Christ.

How to Talk about Race (with Isaac Adams)

Bring up race and people tense up and dig their heals in. Why is this? Why is talking about race is so difficult, and no less in the church? In this episode, Isaac Adams sits down with Kirk to talk about talking: how can we have better conversations about race? Or even more fundamentally, why do we need to have better conversations about race? Based on Adam’s recent book, Talking about Race: Gospel Hope for Hard Conversations (Zondervan, January 2022).

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)