John 17: 21a May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. (HCSB)
The Body Broken
The church faces threats that imperil its witness and its future....Things are not what they used to be. In substantial ways, the future will not look like the past, at least as many have idealized the past. As a consequence, public rhetoric in the church has grown heated. Even worse, in many places meaningful communication has ceased. Some are advocating further division. Other shrug at the division they believe has already occurred in fact if not in name. The church is fragmented, Christ's body broken.
For this very reason, there is cause for hope.
So begins The Body Broken
by Jack R. Reese, Dean of the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University. I believe this book carries one of the most important messages for Restoration Movement churches of our day.
This is not a book about who is right and who is wrong on the various issues of the church. Instead it is a book on how we should approach one another regarding such issues. In a very personal and confessional way, Dr. Reese writes about the unfortunate manner in which the differences among Christians are currently being addressed. He describes the road we keep taking, a road on which people are all too willing to label, to attack, and to divide rather than to work for peace and reconciliation. And he calls us to a more constructive dialogue and process which can bring us together rather than tear us apart.
Often people contrast truth and unity, on the premise that seeking unity puts us at risk of compromising the truth. Dr. Reese points out the fallacy in that reasoning: If we do not make every effort for unity, we are not living according to the truth in the scriptures. The failure of Christians to live in unity is sin, a rebellion against the will of God. Dr. Reese does not call on us to abandon the truths we hold. Instead he calls on us to pursue the peace of Christ.
He illustrates his message with compelling insights from Philippians, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, Romans, and the letters to Timothy. He presents a gripping picture of a typical assembly in the early church, with its love feast and centered around the communion service. And he calls us to be a community of brokenness, where people embrace the peace of Christ.
He closes with a word of hope. The brokenness of the church today is causing some to seek peace. In our broken state, the grace of God can work to bring about peace. He calls on us all to seek to be instruments of peace.
The underlying message is clear: Christians should be able to talk to one another in a manner that conveys love and mutual respect. We should be able to disagree without hostility. And we should tenaciously work for reconciliation rather than settling for division.
I highly recommend the book to anyone who seeks the blessing promised to peacemakers:
Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Labels: Book Review