Yesterday I ended the blog with these words:
"God's people have had the gift of the Spirit and we need to see the potential and the power of the Spirit for each person inside and outside of the Church. We need to reconsider the scope of God's plans for humanity and to gain a fresh understanding of God's grace and love as it was demonstrated in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
I would like to add to this grace-centred approach the thoughts of Moltmann (Spirit of Life, p.10) where he says "to experience the fellowship of the Spirit inevitably carries Christianity beyond itself into the greater fellowship of all God's creatures.
We find the discussion poised at two points of consideration; people outside of the church and the natural world that we live in. Christendom has moved, somewhat, into a ghetto-isation of faith where Christians socialise with Christians, listen to Christian music, buy Christian books and attend Church events.
This is a very comfortable and a very safe place to be. Once a person has assented to the Christian proposition and have "crossed the line" they can be safely gathered into the fold and protected from the cruel world outside the church's doors. This also leads to the position where evangelism is akin to forays out into the world before running back to the fellowship of the saints.
The corollary of this defensive stance is that the Church becomes detached from, and irrelavent to, the outside world so that the gospel message, when it arrives, falls on deaf ears. The movement of God is towards people. It is a movement propelled by grace and love towards those who find themselves on the outside of conventional standards. It is an active movement towards and with a purpose to embrace those who need to be truly loved. This is also a costly movement.
This is where I think the crux of the matter arrives. Love is expensive. It costs time and effort and can often be rebuffed. The clearest model of this is the life and death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
The second point which flowed out of the Moltmann quote and from the general tenor of these disussions is that God's love moves towards His creation. Evangelical theology can arrive at a position whereby God sits enthroned in heaven aloof from the created world. Moltmann's theology of the "fellowship of the Spirit" becomes an ecological theology. I am exploring this and will seek to elucidate it more clearly over time but the point at which I want to begin is that the Christian Church needs to seriously consider its responsibility towards the created world which God deemed to be "good" and towards people, whoever they may be and whatever their journey, who God deems to be "very good".