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AlexDooley
ChristianThoughtFinalEssay
Dr.GeorgeKalantzis
17December2014

CPO1014

LettingGo:ChristAttheCenterofSalvation

Itseemsthatthechurchisobsessedwithcontrol.Mypersonalexperiencegrowingup
asasonofthepastorofalarge,evangelicalchurchhasrevealedmuchaboutthewaysmy
homechurchandournetworkofchurchesoperateonbothacongregationaland
conventionwidelevel.Therearemanypositiveactionstakenbyourchurch,andGod
definitelyusesourbrokencongregationtoaccomplishhiskingdomwork,butthereare
severalareasoverwhichmaintaininganillusionofautonomyorcontrolhastakenhold,both
inthelivesofindividualswithinthecongregationandinthewayourchurchtakescareofits
everydaybusiness.Thisisalsotrueofmypersonallife,asIoftenliketothinkthatmy
successandwellbeingisdependentprimarilyonmyperformanceandskill.Mychurchis
certainlynottheonlyoneinwhichthismindsetpervadestheentireworldhasthecapacityto
fallvictimtoidolizationoftheself.Ifthechurchistobeaneffectiveagentofthegospel,
however,therearesomekeyaspectsofChristiandoctrinethatmustbemoreproperly
emphasizedinordertoalignourvalueswithourstatedmissionandcalling.
Fromthebeginningofhumanity,peoplehavedesiredtobeincontroloftheirown
lives.ThesinofAdamandEvewastheirdesiretobecomelikeGodintheir
own
wayrather
thantrustingGodtoprovidealltheknowledgetheyneededtobecomeclosertoHim.Give
usthisdayourdailybread,believersareinstructedtopray.Godsprovisionforhischildren
outofhisgreatabundanceisaconceptthatseemstohavebeenlostbytodayschurch.So
frequentlydoweoperateunderamindsetofresourcefulscarcity,viewingthatwhichGod
providesassomethingthatmustbestoredawaybeforeitdisappears.
We
mustlookafter

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ourselves,
we
muststoreupforthefuture,
we
mustcreatethemostcomfortablepossible
worldforourselvesandmakeabsolutelysurethatourbeliefsandconvictionsaretolerated
andpromotedbysocietyatlargethisisoftenthetrainofthoughtthatguidesthe
decisionmakingprocessforindividualsandcongregations.Fromthisparadigm,the
wellbeingofindividualswithinthechurchbecomesthefocusratherthanfirstlivingoutthe
gospelbywhatevermeansnecessary,regardlessoftheconsequencestoonespersonal
comfort.Whentheobjectofourservicebecomesourselves,whenthechurchsmainactivity
becomeslobbyingforitsownhappiness,wemakeourselvesidolatersoftheself.
Livingalifefocusedonprovidingcomfortforourselvesratherthanabandoningour
selfishnessforthesakeofthosearoundusfallsheartbreakinglyshortofourcallas
believers.Insteadoflookingtotheguidelinesforsuccessandaccomplishmentsetbythe
worldaroundus,whichwesooftendo,wemustlooktoJesusastheexampleforhowtolive
ourlives.LookingatJesusshowsbelieversthatcompletedenialoftheself,foregoingour
abilitytocreatetheperceptionofcontroloverourownlivesandinsteadtrustingthatGodwill
provideforus,istheappropriatewayforChristianstolivetheirlives.LookingatJesusgives
usperspectiveonhowcomparativelysimpleitshouldbeforustobewillingtoliterallydo
anythingforthesakeofthegospelGodbecameahumanthroughthepersonofJesus,not
consideringequalitywithGodassomethingworthyofaccomplishment,butratherhumbling
himselfandbeingobedient,eventothepointofdeathonacross(Philippians2:58).IfJesus
istrulyourexemplar,wemustbewillingtobehavelikewise.LookingatJesushelpsussee
thatexchangingoursinful,selfcenterednaturesforthenewwayoflifetowhichGodcallsus
isinfinitelybetterthanlivinginouroldwayoflife.
Thegospelrequiresselfabandonment.Wecannotliveasagentsofthegospelof
JesusChristifweareunwillingtoactuallylivelikeJesuslived.If,however,thechurch

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commitsitselftofollowingthecallofChristwhereverthatcallmaylead,regardlessofthe
outcome,oureffortstoreachtheworldarounduswiththegoodnewsofJesuswillamplifyin
theirefficacy.Thisisnotbecauseofanynew,innovativethingthechurchcandoonthe
contrary,itiswhenthechurchreleasestheillusionofhavinganycontrolovertheultimate
outcomeofitsactivitiesthatthechurchbecomesabletomoreaccuratelyreflecttheperson
ofChristandrevealhimtotheworld.Christdoestheworkofconvertingunbelieversitisthe
callofthechurchsimplytotestifyanddisciple.AsStanleyHauerwasstatesinhisarticle
The
ChurchinaDividedWorld
,thechurchispowerlessunlessitcanactuallydemonstratethe
gospelthroughitsbehaviorthiskindofdemonstrationisimpossiblewhenthechurch
attemptstomaintainitsautonomyandinadvertentlyturnsitsfocusfromJesustoitself.
Ourtalents,strategies,andabilitiesarefantasticgiftsfromourcreator.Heusesthese
thingstoaccomplishtheworkofthegospelthroughus,yetitissoeasytoforgetthesource
ofthesegifts:not
us
,butChrist.Inthesameway,itiseasytoforgetaboutthesourceofour
provisionineveryaspectoflife.Godsuppliesfortheneedsofhischildren,givingusthefood
weneedforthedayandcallingustoactmercifullytowardothersoutofhisabundance
ratherthanselfishlyfocusingonourselvesoutofperceivedscarcity.Whateverapersonis
unwillingtogiveupforthesakeofthegospelisthethingtheytrulyworship,andasaperson
worships,sotheybelieve.Dowebelieveinthepowerofourselves,ordowebelieveinthe
powerofChristtoprovideeverythingweneed?Thechurchcannotpossiblyfunctionasit
shouldifitproclaimsitselfastheultimatesaviorbyrefusingtorelinquishcontrolandfailing
totrustthepowerofChristtoprovide.Generationsgoingforwardmustrealigntheirviewof
powerandauthoritywithscriptureChristprovides,thechurchproclaimsandsharesinthe
abundanceofhisprovision.LookingatthepersonofJesustoprovideanexampleofhowto
liveourlivestothegloryofGodtheFatherthroughthepoweroftheHolySpiritistheonly

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waytotrulylivethegospelaseffectivedisciplesandwitnessesofChrist.Thechurchmust
notplaceitselfatthecenterlettinggoofourautonomyisvitaltofully,trulylivingoutthe
gospelinthewaythatwearecalled.