Dr. John Nugent, one of our gifted professors, has written a provocative book entitled, “Endangered Gospel”. I would recommend it wholeheartedly. It made me think about my understanding of the church and its purpose in the world. In one of his chapters he makes these observations:
“When developers plan to build a new subdivision filled with houses of a particular style, it is common for them first to construct a model home in a visible place. They then invite potential buyers to tour the model home. Anyone can walk around and get a feel for what life in such a home might be like. This hands-on experience helps them evaluate whether they wish to live in the subdivision to come.
So it is with the church. We are the model home of God’s Kingdom. To the extent that we display God’s Kingdom in our life together, God is able to draw people to Himself through our witness. Among us they can taste and see the Lord’s goodness.
Central to this life together is how God’s people treat one another. Paul, John. Peter, and others routinely encourage churches to love one another, take care of one another, forgive one another, be unified with one another, and serve one another.
Our life together is, in God’s view, the most powerful force He is willing to exert in order to woo all people to Himself.”
I love the idea he presents that the church is God’s “model home”. What I don’t love is the idea that the church is God’s “model home”. While there are some examples out there that present a positive picture of what the church should be like – there are way too many that seem to know little of the “one another” passages of the Bible. The church is seen as the domineering domain of ruling elders, it is the exclusive social club of the community’s elite, it is the company of the “elect” who enjoy the amenities of Kingdom life but ignore the responsibilities of Kingdom life, it is a place of divisive opinions, bitter splits, and hard feelings that never seem to go away.
Could it be that the church’s lack of impact on the world is because God’s “model home” was full of cracks, peeling paint, and had a leaky roof? The Apostle John wrote in I John 3:14 – “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.” I think that is how the world will know it, too. - President Larry Carter