When you think of “church” what comes to mind? In the U.S. people often think of a voluntary private association. It is like other “clubs” people join.
How we think of church impacts creating an alternative kingdom community. If the church is mainly a private association or club which I join I will struggle to respond to the call to the kind of deep commitment that is needed to form an alternative community.
What shall we say about the church?
- The church is a covenant community. God makes us part of this community(Cf. Infant baptism). In other words God calls a church to himself. So the church is not random individuals. God brings it together.
- The church, says John Calvin, is our mother. The church nurtures us in the faith and outside of the church there is a lack of proper growth in faith. The church especially forms us through our hearing and responding to God’s word proclaimed and the sacraments.
- The church is an alternative city-state that calls forth our first allegiance. Our first allegiance is to what Augustine called “the city of God”. We are first and foremost citizens of the city of God. Our citizenship in that city is reflected in our being a member of the church. As this alternative city:
- The church doesn’t reflect the culture, rather it acts as a window through which people can see the truth about the culture/nation/world they live in.
- The church as the true city-state both affirms and confronts all other nations as it brings God’s word to bear.
- The church shows an alternative way of life that reaches across nations and states because it is worldwide.
- The church proclaims, ‘I pledge allegiance to the Lamb and the kingdom for which he stands.”