Here’s the challenge: not everyone thinks the answers to big questions matter in their ability to follow Jesus. We think they are simply matters of opinion, or even preference. Which answers to big questions matter to us on a personal level? What if big questions help--or hinder--our lives as students of Jesus?
One current question in North America has to do with the importance of the church. Church life in America has become a symbol of irrelevance, hypocrisy, or even considered harmful in the life of a disciple. Why not simply head out to Starbucks or a pub with my believing friends and call that “church?” Who needs the hassle of small-minded people or the drama of church as a someone’s private kingdom? I see the point of these questions. The church in the U.S. is desperately ill. So why not turn off the life support system?
My only problem is God. He seems to think the church is important. Here’s a Monday meditation: just try reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians without considering the place of the church in God’s order of things. The church is mentioned nine times in three separate contexts during this short letter. And the Spirit-inspired text says some outrageous things about the church:
- The church is the “fulness of God” (1: 22-23). Really?
- God wants to speak to the cosmos, using the church as the example of his “manifold wisdom” (3: 10-11). No way!
- God actually thinks marriage is an everyday picture of Jesus and the Church (5: 22-33)