Sunday, September 10, 2006

embracing grace 1: performing the gospel

Scot McKnight describes and depicts the gospel as something to be done:
The gospel is more like a piece of music to be performed than a list of ideas to endorse.
Another key thought in this chapter:
A local church always performs the gospel it proclaims....because its performance is its proclamation.
This can be either good or bad.

Jesus' and Paul's teaching are "designed to transform life as it is lived in the here and now." Jesus makes that clear when he tell us that it is by their fruit, or works, that we know a person. Profession or proclamation must be backed by performance.

People today don't care what churches say. They want to see what they do. And what churches do, needs to conform to the real gospel. People want a real gospel for real people in the real world. Not easy or spectacular. But a story, as part of the Story, performed. To draw people closer to God, to each other, and for the good of the world (to slightly paraphrase one of Scot's sentences).

Patrick of Ireland, St. Patrick's grand story is told along with a couple of present day churches, which are performing the gospel, and seeking to do so in holistic ways.

What do you think of using the word perform, in thinking of how we are to live out the gospel? Do you find it postive or negative, and why? Also, what does performing the gospel look like to you? Is it individual-oriented, community-oriented, and how does it relate to those who really may not be tuned in?

12 comments:

jazztheo said...

being the JAZZ theologian, of course I love the word perform!

Anonymous said...
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Ted Gossard said...

Jazz theo,

Yes. There's a script which you perform in your own God-given way constitutionally, or more like the moment, in jazz. As you are moved. Like the Spirit and the Word.

So "perform" is right on with you.

And Kevin Vanhoozer's book on The Drama of Doctrine... is also helpful to see the legitimacy and aptness of "perform" to the Theodrama God has given us to participate in.

Thanks!

Ted Gossard said...

I removed my post which I repeated. Somehow the computer at work doesn't do what I think I'm programming it to do.

And I posted this on Monday, actually. Blogger keeps the first save of a draft as post time. I meant to paste it, etc. Oh well....

Back to the point here. Perform has taken on for me a good connotation as of late, through reading Scot and others. It is sort of like us living in accordance with who we are in the Lord.

More to the point of Scot's chapter, it is practicing what we preach, or profess. And perform has a nice ring to it for me, since God has given us the text, which we are to perform according to who we are- created in Christ Jesus, and how we're moved, by God and in the community of the faith and to the world,....how we're moved by and in that, to do it. Something like that.

Ted Gossard said...

....or was it Sunday night when I posted this? Oh well....

L.L. Barkat said...

Perform has some negative connotations, yes...

...but to the extent that we understand the intense preparation and vulnerability associated with performance (which seems invisible when the performance "sails"), I think we can apply it here...

... being "the church," being one who loves, is an intense and vulnerable undertaking...

Ted Gossard said...

Great point L.L. Thanks!

Bob Robinson said...
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Bob Robinson said...

Great stuff, Ted!!

I think that probably, for some Christians, the word "Perform" would have negative conotations. They might have come out of a Christian experience that says that you are a Christian by what you do or how you perform in your religious duties. So what they have done is swing the pendulum away from that...which is probably fine for a time, as you heal from that kind of legalism or religiosity. But there must come a time where the pendulum moves back to the center and you realize that the gospel is not just affirming the right beliefs and saying that "salvation is not by works," and therefore "works" matters little. True faith performs what God intends. We've got to move beyond the 20th Century division between the "social gospel" and the "salvation gospel." The gospel is both/and not either/or on this...the good news that God saves people by faith so that they can perform the gospel of peace and justice in the world!

Ted Gossard said...

Bob,
Thanks!

Yes, this gospel involves our whole selves together to the whole world- in this embracing grace.

I barely can articulate it. Much less live it out/perform it. Though isn't that great when we sense God's grace present in this way! Even in our weakness, quite often. (I should probably say, especially in our weakness)

Desert Pilgrim said...

Ted,
Quoting from your post:

"A local church always performs the gospel it proclaims....because its performance is its proclamation."

To me, I hear "Liturgy" loud and clear in this statement. That is one of the things that drew me to liturgical worship, the actual "doing" of the Gospel. To be in the midst of a corporate expression of the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, and all the other things, such as partaking of Holy Communion, and even corporately hearing the spoken Word of God all being proclaimed and listened to in perfect unison is a powerful experience, and also a powerful witness of our faith and our connection with the early church.
Blessings,
Desert Pilgrim~

Ted Gossard said...

Desert Pilgrim,

I agree. Liturgy, and participating in it, says that there is something bigger than us all. It is a proclamation and performing of THAT. With all of its ties in the past, present and future- in Jesus.

Thanks. I always appreciate your perspective. It adds alot.