I just found a remarkable book as I was researching the concept of the Beloved Community, “The Beloved Community: How Faith Shapes Social Justice from the Civil Rights Movement to Today” by Charles Marsh.
The first thing that caught my attention was this:
“While the church as a worshipping community exists for the specific purposes of confessing, proclaiming, and worshipping Jesus Christ as Lord, the beloved community quietly moves from its historical origins into new and unexpected shapes of communion and solidarity. To be sure, the church has an obligation to nurture and fortify the beloved community, even though it often fails in this task. But the church’s failure, its concessions to expediency and comfort, does not limit God’s action in the world. At such times when the church chooses the easy way over the narrow way, God may nurture and fortify the beloved community through the activity of the Holy Spirit. Beloved community may then become a source of knowledge and conviction for the church, which the church in turn must acknowledge and appropriate in humility.”
I can tell much of this book is going to be about the tension between the Church and activism/community building. I remember one of my earliest, and life long disappointments has been Quakers’ continued use of personal automobiles. Even knowing the environmental and economic consequences of the use of personal automobiles did not stop Quakers from owning them. “the church’s failure, its concessions to expediency an comfort, does not limit God’s action in the world. At such times when the church chooses the easy way over the narrow way…”