THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH IS AN OUTWARD EXPRESSION OF GOD, WHO IS LOVE
In love and through love, the new community is created. God, who is by nature unlimited love, draws us to let our partial, limited love unfold in depth until we reach our full capacity for giving ourselves to God and to the totality of everything and everyone that God has created. In our present wounded, damaged, distorted condition, it is difficult to imagine what this sort of beloved community might look like or how we even would begin to commit ourselves to it, but we open ourselves to the impossible, trusting the Source of love to show us the way.
THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH FOLLOWS THE AUTHENTIC JESUS
Most churches claim to follow Jesus, but not all are following the authentic Jesus. Too often we fashion Jesus in our own image and then wonder why there is no radical world change. The authentic Jesus is not in pursuit of privilege and power and prestige, but makes his home among the lowly. The authentic Jesus does not condone violence but is the embodiment of love, embracing all people equally with mercy and the hope of transformation. The authentic Jesus confronts cultural addictions and the systems that create and sustain them. The authentic Jesus says no to the world’s power and yes to God’s power. There is only one real Jesus into whose being we hope to abandon ourselves, dying to our false illusions and letting our true selves be resurrected in him, who is the world’s hope. Together we seek to discover and live his nonviolent, healing nature.
THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH IS A PLACE OF EXTREME DIVERSITY
The world has been damaged severely by the lie that we are meant to be separate from each other, that we are not bound together eternally as the children of one God. The authentic church will be a diverse body, interconnected and interdependent. The diversity will be of every sort race, gender, economics, sexual orientation, age, etc. Even persons of other faiths can find themselves at home in the authentic church because Jesus Christ, with whom we are deepening in relationship, insists that we belong to the totality, the whole family of God. If we think Jesus excludes anyone, we haven’t yet gone deep enough in discovering who Jesus is.
THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH IS SERIOUS ABOUT THE WORK OF RECONCILIATION
We are the recipients of God’s atonement through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, but how can we claim to have atonement [ literally at-one- ment] with God if we are not reconciled to the diverse family of God? The authentic church will create structures for the practice of reconciliation among those who often remain at a distance from each other. We will seek to know and be known by people whom society might call our .opposites,” in order to overcome the barriers that we have been led to believe were inevitable. As we learn to trust each other, we will stop living in isolation and fear and will experience true communion.
THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH SHARES ITS LIFE WITH OTHERS OUTSIDE ITS CIRCLE
We cannot keep what we are unwilling or unable to give away. This is more than telling others what or how to believe, and more than giving persons who have been
oppressed the tools they need to make it in the world, hoping they sense that they are cared for. Living a life together in Christ means becoming the fullness of love, which simply cannot keep from sharing itself with others, and especially any who are excluded. The authentic church will gravitate naturally toward the weakest members of society. In our sharing of mutual weakness, we will find ourselves deeply at home with each other.
THE AUTHENTIC CHURCH SEEKS JUSTICE
The church often has been too cautious about its calling to justice, especially justice for those who have been excluded from places of privilege. We have forfeited our God given responsibility to act on behalf of the poor. (See Psalm 41:1; Isaiah 1:17,3:13 15,10:1 4,61:1; Ezekiel 34:4; Amos 5:11 12; Mark 12:40; Luke 10:36 37; John 21:17; etc.) Through the power of nonviolent love, the authentic church will bring pressure to bear on the systems of our world that are unjust. We will challenge those in political power to act on behalf of the powerless, empowering and lifting up the voices of those who otherwise have no voice. The authentic church will join with others who are working for systemic change, ready to take the risks of love, even risking persecution for the sake of justice.