Posted by: Jim Black | March 10, 2008

"Doing Church" in the 21st century… the fifth act

I was struck today from something I am reading on the thinking of David Lipscomb and James A. Harding.  It comes from Kingdom Come published by Leafwood publishers and is written by a professor friend of mine, John Mark Hicks and a co-author, Bobby Valentine.  On their chapter concerning Lipscomb and Harding’s emphasis on the importance of Bible study, the authors elaborate on an increasingly popular analogy that I found pretty insightful.

 

Living the story of God is like performing a drama.  Our life in Christ is analogous to a group of Shakespearean disciples who want to perform a newly discovered six-act play by Shakespeare.  But the fifth act is missing.  We only have the first four acts and the last one.  Suppose, however, these disciples wanted to perform the play.  How can they perform it without the fifth act?  They will have to improvise.  In order to do so, they would have to “live and breathe” the [other] works of Shakespeare.  By knowing the mind of Shakespeare and thoroughly understanding the extant acts, they are able to improvise the fifth act in a way that is faithful to the other acts.

 

Christian discipleship is like performing the fifth act.  Scripture bears witness to the mind of God in Christ.  We have the first act—Creation—and thus know God’s intent for his world.  We have the second act—Israel—and thus know how God intended his people to be a light for the Gentiles.  We have the 3rd act—Christ—and thus we see how the Son exegetes the Father (cf. Jn 1:18).  We have the 4th act—the early Church—and thus know how the church in the New Testament lived and communally practiced the values of God in their time.  And we know the 6th act—the new heaven and new earth—and thus know God’s goal for his people.  We are the fifth act [the modern church] and we currently perform that act best as we imaginatively enter into the mind of God in Christ.  We seek to perform the fifth act in a way that is faithful to Scripture and faithful to how God has progressively worked in history to establish his kingdom.

 

Their conclusion was that our ability to faithfully improvise and perform this “fifth act” depends directly upon our “living and breathing” the works that we do know… the writings of Scripture.  We come to know the mind of God through our knowledge of Scripture… and without that knowledge we are left wandering aimlessly in this life.  Pretty insightful, I thought…

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Responses

  1. How interesting that in a culture that is highly visual in nature, we have an analogy of being a “visual” follower of Christ. The very nature of being an actor in a play is that the character that is being portrayed (in this case, Christ) must be made clear to the audience (the World). So, the question is, Is our portrayal of our Savior clear and compelling, or ambiguous and weak?


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