Num 3; 1 Cor 14: Psalm 94
‘so that the church may be built up . . .’
Paul’s argument here is well understood, but very hard to apply, or even see the significance of in Western Protestant churches, where we have a well worked theology of why the church is irrelevant to the Life that we individually enjoy in Christ.
It is informative to read Paul carefully to see just how powerfully he continually speaks of the significance of the church, the vehicle for God’s wisdom to be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places – the church as the Body of Christ. It is Paul who teaches us that Christ utterly identifies himself with His Church, his bride. Yet to read the vast majority of contemporary books on ‘Spirituality’, the church may just as well not exist.
The individualistic model of Salvation prevalent in so many parts of the more conservative churches, coupled with the Social liberation agenda of so many liberals sees no place for the church. It is no surprise it is in such radical decline given this assault on both wings upon the Bride of Christ.
In the Anglican church (a church which has a hard time deciding whether it is Catholic or Protestant, or both, or neither) we share the peace with one another before receiving the Sacrament, the symbol of our Unity. In this we are exhorted to follow the teaching of Paul – ‘to pursue all that makes for peace and builds up our common life’. The common life of the Western church must extend far beyond coffee fellowship and bible study groups or learning opportunities, to a radical sharing of all of our lives, that we might be seen for what we are the Bride of the one who shared his life in toto for us, and in the Eucharist, with us