A body is not made up of parts. The body is the precondition necessary for a part to be what it is.
Likewise, a church is not made up of Christians. The church is the precondition necessary for a person to take part in God’s mission to love and change the world.
One can only be a Christian without taking part in church to the extent that a hand is only a hand in relation to the body from which it may be severed. The purpose, meaning, and nature of the individual has no coherence or consistency without first knowing the story in which that individual is living.
People are not the problem – people are the point.
If there is one fundamental, global change to which I hope to contribute over the course of my lifetime, it would be moving the needle on our assumptions and incentives to see the world through this lens.
Words on a page are meaningless. Life in relationship is where meaning is born. Emotion is the raw material of life. Story is the form of relationship.
Defining a term is only possible to the extent that it locates that term within a tradition of argument over the course of time. To define something per se would be to assume that there is an individual or a rationality that could exist without its located-ness within lived relationships. That we are community before we are individuals has to change the way we think about meaning and understanding because neither can exist without the life in which meaning and understanding are born and lived out.
Free will and determinism are only meaningful and separable if we deny the reality of human existence. That we are community before we are individuals necessitates that the raw materials through which there becomes an “I” are determined long before we exert influence over our lives or surroundings. That there is an “I” to exert influence necessitates the existence of a will that is free precisely to the extent that it is coherent to speak of existence or experience as meaningful terms.
Relationship is the story that is given but is never finished. Relationship can only be worked on and deepened or broken and harmed but never created new or fully ended.
The church is not a building.
The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is God’s mission to change the world.