From the Reverend’s Desk

By Reverend Eric Gates

A student in Miroslav Volf’s theology class at Yale Divinity once asked him, “But what does that have to do with real life?” “That,” in the question, is theology, the study of God and God’s relation to the world. Volf argues in Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work, that “theology is an (academic) enterprise whose object of study is God and God’s relation to the world and whose purpose is not simply to discover ‘knowledge,’ but to serve a way of life” (p.247).

As I have begun my doctoral studies, the big question which lingers in my mind is consistently “What ought the church be doing to help heal the community?” From this question, many other questions come to mind. One, which I believe is very important for us to be asking at Central is:

“How can our church, over time, address fundamental human needs in response to and in the light of God’s active presence for the life of the world?”

“Doing” and “address” in my questions, are theology, the study of God and God’s relation to the world. What we are “doing” has everything to with real life. How we “address” fundamental needs of humanity as a church, has everything to do with real life.

The church is called by God to be engaged with the community and world. Yes, we can have Jesus wherever we are, so why go to church then? What’s the importance of church? It’s important because God created the church, after the death and resurrection of Jesus, to continue to carry the Gospel message to others. The disciples were reminded that there is strength in unity. God does not want us to be John Wayne and to encounter the problems of the world by ourselves. Go ahead and try to do this by yourself, over the course of several years. You might be able to get away with not being a part of church, but you will probably drift away from God and become tired and lost along the way. Spiritually, you might yearn for a greater community of faith where you are sharpened and challenged by others to push yourself beyond your limits of mind, body, and spirit.

The church is the vehicle which can move us from living in segregating ideologies to a more genuine and honest representation of God’s kingdom here on earth. “But what does church have to do with real life?” In this world, church can still be relevant and significant, especially in a society where our young people are being raised to be consumers rather than to be of service to others. The church can be a place where strangers are brought together and are spiritually rejuvenated, nurtured, and sustained. Then they are better equipped to go into the community, nation, and world and share the Gospel message of Christ; Love God, and love others as you want to be loved.