The Church.

What flashes through your head when you hear those two words? A 1980s Aussie rock band? A stuffy institution full of disconnected people peddling archaic ideas? A power hungry bunch, of mostly white men, who will do anything to cling to power, including covering up atrocities and trampling all over people they disagree with? A political group seeking to wield disproportionate power over the political landscape – imposing their own views on others? A thing some people might go to some Sundays? A building, perhaps an impressive sandstone buildings with the best views in town? A much maligned and misunderstood group of people, who you may or may not identify with, trying to bring hope into a dark world?

What should flash through your head when you hear these two words?

Jesus.

According to the story of the Bible, the Church is the people gathered by God to be part of his Kingdom. The redeemed children of God, bought at an incredible price, united with Christ, given the Holy Spirit, equipped to live transformed lives in God’s world as a testimony to his crucified and resurrected King, Jesus.

Unless people make this connection —  seeing Jesus when they see the church —  we, the church, are getting something wrong. We’ve stuffed up.

This shouldn’t surprise us — not those of us who turned to Jesus to save us — because we know we’re broken people who live messy lives in a broken world. A world Jesus came to make right.

“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time.” —C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Unless people see Jesus in us, and in our approach to the big issues of our time, we’re getting something wrong, we’re stuffing up, and when we stuff up, especially in ways that stop people seeing Jesus, it’s time to ‘fess up, to apologise. To humbly admit we’ve got it wrong, and that we’ll keep getting it wrong. We need to admit the world is very broken, it’s full of complex, broken, situations, and rushing in to try to solve this brokenness without Jesus is wrong. Without him we have no answers to the broken world.

This nine week series we’ll be looking at what the Church gets wrong about some complex issues, but how Jesus makes them right, and makes us right. This is a series about ethics — about how we live in the world as followers of Jesus.

Stanley Hauerwas is a Christian who think about Christian ethics as a job, he says all people are shaped by stories, or narratives that define how we see the world.

“Ethics is not primarily about rules and principles, rather it is about how the self must be transformed to see the world truthfully. For Christians, such seeing develops through schooling in a narrative, which teaches us how to use the language of sin not only about others, but about ourselves.” — Stanley Hauerwas

Not living out God’s story is where we go wrong as a Church. Living out God’s story is how the Church does what it exists to do. God uses us to tell his story. His story is the story of Jesus, and his victory over the brokenness in the world we live in. A victory he wins at the Cross. Or, as the Apostle Peter puts it, Jesus was chosen before the creation of the world and it’s through him, his death, and resurrection that we know hope. This is the story we’re called to live in this world.

He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. — 1 Peter 1:20-23

Each week we’re tackling one of the big issues in our world. Each issue will have its own page that will be linked to below, where you’ll be able to read how God’s story, which culminates in the Cross of Jesus, helps us approach that issue, how the stories of other people should shape how we engage with the issue, and what it might look like for us to live out God’s Cross-shaped story in response to this issue and the people it affects.

  1. Judging Others
  2. Gay Marriage
  3. Asylum Seekers
  4. Abuse
  5. Feminism
  6. Abortion
  7. Climate Change
  8. Human Trafficking
  9. Greed