Pastor’s ponderings

I was reading an article this week which reported the Pope has proclaimed that it is time that the Catholic Church have a transformation in theology.  In this decision, the Pope determined that what we think about God and God’s interaction with the world must move from the theoretical realms confined to desks into the realities in which people live in each and every day all over the world.  In other words, our faith is contextual, based within the conditions in which we live, for our cultures, societies, and relationship networks are very different and the differences within each of these can still teach us a lot about God, for God is still found within each of them.

While this may sound like a dramatic shift in how the church thinks, and may commit to act, I’m not so sure.  Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, telling them, “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to gain Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might gain those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not outside God’s law but am within Christ’s law) so that I might gain those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, so that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor 9:20-22, NRSV).  Apparently, even at the very beginnings of Christianity, Paul had already determined that contextualization of the faith is not only possible, but necessary.

            Each person gathered in the pews of any church on a Sunday morning come from a variety of backgrounds, upbringings, and understandings about God.  We are all different.  So, then, why do we, as the church, sometimes seem to try to wrangle everyone into being exactly the same, behaving the same way and thinking the same thing?  Certainly, we want unity as the Body of Christ, but can’t there also be diversity within that unity?

            I think that is why Paul continued on in his letter to the Corinthians to explain, “Now there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of services but the same Lord, and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of powerful deeds, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Cor 12:4-11). 

            In the Spirit of Christ, we are one.  Yet, all humanity, created in the image of God (Gen 1:27), are created uniquely for the variety of gifts, purposes, services and activities required to make the Church effective in the world around us.  The Church is not the same as it was in Paul’s day. The Church is not the same as it was fifty years ago.  The Church is not even the same as it was just a few years ago. The Church must be ever changing, ever evolving to meet the needs of an ever-changing world.  So, members of the Body of Christ in the world today, are you changing along with it?

                                                                        Always pondering,

                                                                        Pastor Steve

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