Sunday, June 17, 2012
God's Economy and Church Renewal : The Acton Institute Series
( http://university.acton.org/ )
The church is not directly responsible for all of this, of course. A church exists to lead the people of God in worship, provide community through which they may learn His ways , and care for the soul as we journey through life toward eternity. As a part of this soul care however, the church helps God's people discover their vocation. It teaches them to see themselves as stewards of the resources around them. The church does not regulate or control the vocation of its people. That is the responsibility of other divinely sanctioned spheres of human authority. However, it does offer guidance about how to discover the values, purpose and means through which individuals flourish in God.
This is what St. Paul means by his striking phrase, economia theu. He means that the church offers divine insight for a fallen world; wisdom from above that reveals the way life really works. It does not exist to entertain people nor even merely to comfort them. It exists to teach people "those things you have heard from me."
A mega church plays a critical part in this work of grace. It deserves our concern and care for that reason. Because the mega church must maintain its spiritual health if it is to play the part it has been called to play in these challenging times, we must do what we can to maintain its health and focus.
In the end though, no church, however large, exists as an isolated unit. All churches, regardless of denomination or location, find their reason and means of existence in the communion of saints. Churches exists to be witnesses of that which has at all times and in all places been believed by the whole people of God. They make God’s presence known in the communities around them. They lead unbelievers to God. They train believers in God's ways. They prepare the next generations to perpetuate the eternal mysteries of God. They prepare the soul for eternity. They enrich the soil of the human heart to grow fruit that enriches human society.
Local churches, like individual Christians, manifest these unique gifts in different ways and to various degrees of capacity. However, some measure of the glory of God is always revealed through the symphony performed by these instruments when they are in harmony one with the other. The theme of this divine symphony is human redemption from the effects of sin and evil. We are called to manifest the first fruits of a universe that one day will, as a whole and in all its parts, reflect the manifest wisdom of God. We do this together; as individuals, as denominations, and as local churches of all different kinds and sizes.
So I thank you for this opportunity to give witness to the power of the economia theu -- the economy of God. I am grateful for the opportunity because I truly believe this to be the source of life, the origin and aim of human flourishing, and the central meaning of all economia everywhere, a word which means, after all, the ways of the household.
Mega churches are large households which, like all individuals and institutions claiming to represent Jesus Christ, are obligated to keep the economia theu as their actual, and not merely their professed core of existence. To the extend they do, they are partners in grace and reflections of God's charitable care for humankind.