Five years ago, when I started this blog, I started it for a very specific reason: to study the purpose of the assembling of the church according to the New Testament. For that reason, I named the blog “The Assembling of the Church.” I was about to begin PhD studies (on the same topic), and I wanted this blog to be a place where I could write about and discuss my studies.
Over the years, I’ve learned something else very important: you cannot ONLY study the assembly of the church. Why? Because when it comes to our life together in Christ, it is all interconnected.
You see, we like to compartmentalize things, especially when we try to study them. Look at school subjects, even beginning with kindergarten and elementary school. There are times for specific activities and exercises and subjects.
Nothing changes when we get into the realm of theology – the study and understanding of God. We humans like to divide subject into smaller compartments (theology proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Anthropology, Ecclesiology etc.) and attempt to study just that one compartment or even a subset of that one compartment. For example, my particular topic of interest would be a subset of Ecclesiology, right? Well, yes. But it is also a subset of theology proper, Christology, Pneumatology, Anthropology, etc. Again, it is all interconnected.
Even when we think of ideas and topics and concepts that seem to relate only to Ecclesiology, we find they are truly interconnected within the topic of the church and also connected to the other areas of theology as well.
For example, I cannot study the purpose of the church assembling together in the New Testament without consider how that relates to Scripture, theology proper (God), Christology (Jesus Christ), Pneumatology (the Holy Spirit), Anthropology (mankind), etc.
Within the topic of ecclesiology, I cannot study the reason for Christians gathering together without also considering spiritual gifts (the reasons for them, the exercise of them, the extent of them, etc.), leadership (the nature of leadership and maturity among the church), our identity (both related to Christ and to one another), service (or “ministry” if you prefer), missions, etc. All of these topics are interrelated.
But, they are not only interconnected in our study; they are also interconnected in our life.
The way we meet together tells us a lot about what we think about God, Scripture, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, mankind, the church, etc. Also, the way we meet together tells us a lot about what we think about spiritual gifts, leadership, our identity, service, missions, etc.
The opposite is true also. What we truly believe about the items listed above: God, Scripture, Jesus Christ, … spiritual gifts, leadership, identity… will affect the way we meet together.
Similarly, all of the things listed above cannot be separated from the way that we live our lives together. The way we share (or do not share) our lives together says a lot about what we believe, and vice versa.
It really is interconnected. As much as we try, we cannot separate them cleanly… and perhaps we shouldn’t try. Because when we separate them, we may find that we begin saying one thing while living a completely different way.
And, we must always remember… following Christ is a way of life, not a list of concepts.
What do you think?