The church is the foretaste, the anticipation, the people who ‘flash-mob’ their world with God’s kingdom; because it is Jesus’ people, because it represents it’s leader, who already ‘flash-mobbed’ our world with the kingdom. Jesus, in doing this, brought God’s transformative new life and creation upon the world, through his life, death and resurrection.
The church is, therefore, incredibly important. The church as Christ’s continued presence in the world has the role of continuing to represent the kingdom and all it looks like.
The consequences are fascinating, Stanley Hauerwas writes,
By being that kind of community we see that the church helps the world understand what it means to be the world. For the world has no way of knowing it is world without the church pointing to the reality of God’s kingdom. How could the world ever recognize the arbitrariness of the divisions between people if it did not have a contrasting model in the unity of the church?
That last sentence reminded me of something Blaise Pascal said,
Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?
Arbitrary, arbitrary, arbitrary; yet often understood to be valid reasons for exclusion, violence and distance.
Hauerwas pulls this back toward the church,
Only against the church’s universality can the world have the means to recognize the irrationality of the divisions resulting in violence and war, as one arbitrary unit of people seek to protect themselves against the knowledge of their arbitrariness.
This is the role and function of the church – to be a community, in the midst of a world with a multiplicity of disharmonious communities, that stands to reflect, anticipate and (to as much as it is capable) be God’s kingdom of peace, love, truth, now.
The church by virtue of the story that defines it’s virtues exists in contrast, it lives a different way, has a demeanour distinguished to the rest of the world, because the kingdom refuses to accept the violence and fear of the other that comes from human arbitrariness. This is why the church is important; if the church does this, even as a flash-mob, the world might come to understand just how it is world.