Lesslie Newbigin said, “The church lives in the midst of history as a sign, instrument, and foretaste of the reign of God.”
Every time I read those words I am inspired and challenged.
Inspired because I remember why we do what we do.
Why do we love our enemies?
Why do we serve the poor and oppressed?
Why do we gather and sing and teach and learn?
It’s because we have been radically changed by God in Christ.
It’s because we know the power and love and forgiveness and peace and hope that can only be given by the risen Christ.
I am inspired because I remember that we are blessed to be a blessing. We are the instrument God works through to share his gifts and goodness with the world.
I am challenged because I remember all the ways that I have, personally, fallen short of this calling to be a “sign, instrument, and foretaste of the reign of God.”
I remember all the ways my pride and selfishness prevent me from being who God made me to be.
I remember all the times that I, and other Christians like me, have given God a bad reputation in the world. When we gossip, when we make our agenda more important than loving others, when we fail to honor the image of God in ourselves and those around us…what does the world really see?
If we are a “sign, instrument, and foretaste of the reign of God,” what does a watching world…[let’s narrow that a bit]…
my neighbor, teacher, student, co-worker, parent, child, friend, insert the person/relationship that you are thinking of here…
what do they think “God’s reign” is like?
Does our example move them closer to, or farther away from trusting God?