Friday, January 21, 2011

"God showed up"

Would you ever use the phrase "God showed up" to describe a church service? Why or why not? If you heard someone say it, what would you think they were referring to?

I've heard this phrase or variations on it a number of times in different contexts and it seems to mean very different things amongst different flavours of Christianity.

High church: we celebrated the eucharist.

Charismatic: we had a really rocking praise and worship time and/or prayer time.

Biblicist: at least two or three of those that attended were gathered in the name of Jesus.

Any other suggestions?


Lionel Windsor said...

Hi Byron, thanks for your blog; I'm enjoying reading your summaries of current issues.

I tried to answer this very question a while back, so I thought I might as well comment:

My conclusion:

"What should we expect God to do among us when we gather? In a nutshell, we should expect God to be doing his gospel work. We should expect God to be among us, convicting us of sin (Matt 18:16, 20; 1 Cor 5:4-5; 1 Cor 14:24). We should expect Jesus to be among us, rescuing sinners from God's judgment (Matt 18:15; 1 Cor 5:5). Or, looking further afield in the Bible, we should expect Jesus to be among us to enable us to do his will and keep his commandments (Heb 13:20-21; John 14:20-21)—especially the command to love one another (John 15:11-12). We should expect Christ to create the hope of glory in us (Col 1:27). Fundamentally, we should be expecting God, our creator, Lord and saviour, to speak to us in church by his creative and powerful and saving word (John 17:20-23; 1 Cor 14:24; Col 1:5-6)."

byron smith said...

Thanks Lionel - a good summary of a host of important themes!

Martin Kemp said...

I've heard it spoken about in terms of signs and wonders: "God turned up and made my left leg longer, and there was gold dust everywhere" etc

Re the Matt 18.20 passage, I've often heard it quoted as a simple definition of church (Volf does this if memory serves me correctly). In a sermon the other day our Senior Minister made the simple point that Matt 18.20 is in the context of rebuking a church member, so it's not so much a definition of church as a legitimisation of church discipline. Seems so obvious now...

byron smith said...

Both good points. Thanks!