The church by some, perhaps even many is thought to be dead in the water, largely irrelevant, not mattering in society except insofar as the church helps those in need and indirectly if not directly helps society to achieve its common goals. But as Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of a passage in Ephesians makes it clear, such thinking has it backwards:
The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.
One of the dangers for the church is to try to be relevant to the world on the world’s terms. Of course that’s the only way the church will keep from being irrelevant in the world’s eyes, to help fulfill something of the world’s agenda. The world in scripture, when it doesn’t mean creation means the world system which while having much infighting in itself is essentially human rule severed from God’s rule, from Christ’s rule. If it would stay in place to keep order and see that there is help for those in need toward a flourishing for everyone, that’s one thing. But almost invariably or sooner or later it crosses the line where it becomes the standard and its rule the rule, rather than humbly ruling under God and God’s rule. Actually in this life the most dangerous governments I would suppose are those who think their rule is the will of God, that they are enforcing God’s rule and will. In this life that is left solely to the church, Christ’s body, over which he is the head, the church being the subjects of God’s kingdom under King Jesus, even as the daughters and sons of God.
And so the church is meant to help bring people out of the world and into the church. It is relevant in terms of God’s will, God’s grace and kingdom come in Jesus. And not in terms of the world’s agenda. Even if on occasion some of what the church does happens to overlap with concerns of the world.
This is not meant to say that the world doesn’t matter. Politics is important on a certain level, and extremely so. But it is not at all on the same level as God’s kingdom come in Jesus, the church. This is where the real politics for the follower of Jesus lies. Not Democrat, Republican or anything like that. But in terms of God’s will in Jesus, one that is redemptive and reconciling, relevant to all of life, even though now the mission includes the way of the cross. To be completed when Jesus returns. And begun even in this life in the church.