Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Church Living Her Lord's Vision

August 3, 1958

Kassel, Germany

The Church Living Her Lord's Vision

Norman J. Baugher, General Secretary

... The Church of the Brethren is deeply grateful to the churches of Kassel, the surrounding area, and Germany generally for welcoming us as you have to your great country for this celebration of the two-hundred-fiftieth anniversary of the founding of our communion. ...

I wish to speak briefly on the urgency of the present-day church's living the vision Christ had for his people. When Jesus spoke in Nazareth (Luke 4:18, 19) to inaugerate His active ministry, the urgency of a new revelation and a new strategy for God's people struck with such force that the world has heard only the first rather than the last reverberations of what He said. ...

Review seriatim the aspects of this vision of Christian witness. Sense how immediately relevant to our world situation it is and how straightforwardly it suggests a unique servant role for the church today.

First is the concern for the poor - "...he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor."

Here is a pattern of pity and passion for people, especially the disadvantaged, which is a dominant quality of the whole ministry of God revealed in His Son. A revolutionary world today challenges the church rather deeply at this precise point.

Next is the mission to the distressed - "...he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted."

Redemptive suffering is one of the witnesses of the Christian which is of the very nature of the cross itself. To take suffering, brokenheartedness, and sadness and reveal through them a spirit that "transfigures the misfortune with courage and steadies it with trust" is to have that quality of experience and life which is of the very heart of God....

Then there is a gospel to set life free - " proclaim release to the captives ... to set at liberty those who are bruised."

Jesus is sent to free every yoke and bondage of captivity. No fear, no ignorance, no prejudice, no habit, no outer or inner power is so strong but that He can give liberty to the life that is held captive. ... The church is commissioned to be the agent of release, freedom, and liberty.

Finally, Jesus was concerned about vision - "...and recovering of sight to the blind..."

There is a ministry of compassion and concern toward the blind which runs throughout the life of our Lord. The blindness may be physical. It may be a social color blindness or a cultural blindness. It may be a spiritual or moral dullness which does not discern the things of God and of right human relations. The church is summoned to a great ministry of opening ... eyes to God and their neighbors!

All of this consummates in the establishment of a reign on earth important to God - " proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."

Elsewhere Jesus says it this way: "Thy Kingdom come...on earth as it is in heaven."

Across the centuries and even in our time, on many frontiers and in many hearts, this Kingdom is coming! God has ordained its coming! ... The Spirit of the Lord is upon the church to reign in the hearts of (all): showing forth a concern for the poor, carrying forward a ministry to the distressed, setting the imprisoned free and at liberty, and giving vision to the blind. To fulfill such a ministry is the task of the whole church wherever she lives. ....

Source: The Adventurous Future