Updated: Jul 19, 2019
“For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” (1 Corinthians 3:21–23 ESV)
On Wednesday morning, we read these words in Morning Prayer, and they impacted me in a new way. I wanted to share some of that insight with you. Paul is challenging the Corinthian church to set their petty divisions and factions aside, and to embrace their God-given role as “stewards of the mysteries of God.” We so often get territorial, driven by all manner of allegiances, forgetful of just how much is ours in Christ. Paul is reminding the Church that as everything in the created order holds together in Christ, including the world, life, death, the past and the present. Thus, we need not be troubled by the world, because it is contained in Christ. We need not be troubled by life or death, because they likewise are bound up and belong to Christ. In the same way, even the present time and the future itself are contained in Christ. These warring factions in the Corinthian Church are being called to consider how their fretting about these things is indicative of merely holding to the wisdom of this world, which is always folly with God. Outwardly, they are showing the world that they do not believe the mysteries they steward belong to the Lord.
In a parish church, we can often suffer from a kind of factionalism. We have competing visions for the future, differing understandings of what constitutes a thriving faithful congregation. We come to have differing ideas and convictions about the way forward, especially when conflict comes. As parish churches go, we have a rather serene life. I write these things merely to note that whatever the future may be for our parish, it belongs to Jesus.
Over the coming months, I’m going to be working with a variety of people at Christ Church to undertake a period of discernment about how the Lord is calling us to live out our life as a parish in the coming years. Call it strategic planning. Call it crafting a rule of life. Call it master plan. At the end of the day, my hope is to have a vision and plan that everyone (and others!) can get behind, to drive our work into the future. There will be disagreements. There will be some manner of hand-wringing. My hope is that all of us can go forward convinced that the future belongs to Jesus, and belonging to Him, it belongs to us! We will all be called upon to make sacrifices for each other and for the sake of the Gospel. Know that I continue to believe that Christ Church holds a unique and vital place, not only in global Anglicanism, but in the whole Church. You and I are given to be servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Let’s work together!