The church and the reign of God

Newbigin’s words capture me again today. Here he weaves together Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the Holy Spirit to argue for the presence of God in the church:

“The presence of the kingdom is a hidden presence, hidden in the cross of Jesus, but precisely in its hiddenness it is revealed to those whom God through his Spirit grants the gift of faith. If we say- as we must- that the reign of God was present in Jesus, that it was present in his living, dying, and his risen life, we have to go on to say that in a secondary, derivative, but nonetheless real sense the reign of God is present (hidden yet revealed to eyes of faith) in the community that bears his name, lives by faith in his person and work, is anointed by his Spirit, and lives through history the dying and rising of Jesus…

…It is a sinful community. It is, during most of its history, a weak, divided, and unsuccessful community. But because it is the community that lives by and bears witness to the risen life of the crucified Lord, it is the place where the reign of God is actually present and at work in the midst of history, and where the mission of Jesus is being accomplished. This affirmation is not made as the conclusion of a survey of the history of the church and its present reality. On the contrary, it is made as an integral part of the confession of faith. Because I believe  in one God the Father, one Lord Jesus Christ, and one Holy Spirit, I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. And I believe that the reign of God is present in the midst of this sinful, weak, divided community, not through an power or goodness of its own, but because God has called and chosen this company of people to be the bearers of his gift on behalf of all people.”

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