The Great Omission, pt. 2

Great OmissionSome more good food for thought from Dallas Willard’s The Great Omission. This is my favorite quote from the book. It points out something special about the role of the church to produce disciples and how vital that really is. He says that…

the greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heart-breaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as “Christians” will become disciples-students, apprentices, practitioners-of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence (p. xv).

This is why I am a pastor. As a high school and college student trying to navigate a world of vocational options, I always somehow knew that the church was the answer. My parents, both directly and indirectly, inculcated in my brother and me a great love for the body of Christ over the years of watching and sharing in their ministry to others. They were, and are still, indefatigable in their service to others.

I’ve heard a number of pastors and thinkers say that the church is the hope of the world. Despite the church’s distractibility and its sinful failings, God has chosen the body of Christ to participate in His plan to redeem the world to Himself. For all its foibles and frustrations, the body of Christ is called to be disciples in a way that means that, when people come into contact with it, they are experiencing Christ. Like C.S. Lewis says, we are little Christs.

So, the most important question facing the world today isn’t about funding education, using renewable energy resources, or curbing terrorism. It is whether the church will be full of practicing disciples. Despite the (somewhat) valuable effort and energy invested in these (temporarily) helpful pursuits, the church is the only body or institution in existence who makes an eternal difference.

Think about it… Even the redemptive product of the family is measured insofar as it participates in the body of Christ. In other words, a kid becomes a disciple in a family because that family is being the body of Christ. It’s not something inherent about biology. It’s only something inherent in being a spiritual family that creates disciples, namely, the presence of Christ.

So, the church is the answer. In Willard’s terms, it’s because the church makes disciples out of Christians. Only God makes disciples, I know, but the church is the only worldly institution that has the responsibility to call Christians to discipleship. What other enterprise would anyone ever want to participate in?! That’s how I see it.

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2 Responses

  1. Or perhaps the most important question today is whether others will see that we are followers of Jesus by the way we treat our neighbors and coworkers who are NOT followers, and whether we are living sacrificially in our families (it’s still the little stuff: dishes, groceries, and crying children) which are the hallmarks of humble service. Too often we get caught up in the highly visible service and the exhilaration of the life of the mind and neglect the foot washing and feeding hungry folks that characterized Jesus’ ministry.

  2. Scott … I like the updated looks. And I like the Part 1 and Part 2 of the Great Omission.

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