Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Think and Act Locally

Barry Maxwell has a great post on the centrality of the local church in the Christian life. He particularly critiques the temptation to focus on big names and distant issues rather than focusing on personal relationships with the people with whom you are covenanted.

Here is an excerpt:

In no way minimizing the gift these pastoral and theological giants are to the church, the primary field in which our soul’s graze is our local church. It is to our local brothers and sisters we owe primary attention. It is with them we must work out God’s word and share common convictions and confession. What Piper, MacArthur, Driscoll, Sproul or you-name-him thinks about an issue is important, but not nearly as important as what our local church thinks about it. Unless we’re members of Bethlehem Baptist Church John Piper is not commanded to keep my brothers and sisters from evil, unbelieving hearts that fall away from the living God, nor we him (Heb 3.12). We as members of our local church are commanded to do so for our brothers and sisters with whom we’re covenantally committed.

Rather than immediately wonder what Piper might think, we would benefit far more by asking what our brothers and sisters might think. If I’m commanded to help my brother hold fast his confession then I’d better know what he confesses! How will Bill work out this week’s text in his marriage? In what way did Bonnie see Christ in the text this week? How do we as a church work through Jesus’ teaching on divorce or Paul’s teaching on communion? Do we insist on independence and autonomous self-study (hyper-priesthood of the believer) or do we want to work out and share convictions within the biblical community?

It matters what “those” guys think in the big picture scheme of things, but not nearly as much what “these” guys in my life think. These guys with whom I share the same cup and loaf. These guys who know my children and cry when we’re hurting. These guys who see me sin and fumble the faith. These guys who know the right ways to encourage and confront me. These guys are the theologians from and about whom I should most want to learn.

Read the whole thing.

2 comments:

Phil said...

Thank you Ray for your emphasis on the local church. I am encouraged and challenged many times while reading your blog.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thaks Phil.