The Church is frequently conscripted into other stories, so that the Church lives in a world defined by others, not by Scripture. Culture is full of rival stories about the Church:
The church is the soul of the community. It represents “everything good in our culture”, a repository of wholesome family values that instills morality and social consciousness into future generations. The church is a place where we can look back nostalgically to the “good ol’ days” and remind ourselves that God is a God of order, hard work and dignity. The church does the grunt work that the rest of the world wants to ignore – feeding the hungry, disciplining our children, providing wholesome entertainment for teenagers, preserving traditions and historic buildings, burying the dead, refereeing our marital squabbles and giving to poor people all the donated junk we don’t want anymore. The church is where we run to when life gets scary so the grandfatherly white men in funny robes can sprinkle holy water, say a magic prayer, and affirm whatever decisions we’ve already made.
Some of these stories sound nice, even comforting and safe. But it also keeps the Church out of the way so the Powers can operate without interference. This story keeps Christians quiet, and it turns the Kerygma into a harmless voice of conscience.
We need to reclaim our Story. We need the Holy Spirit to remind us that the church is on a mission. The Church is made up of men and women who have been called together by the Word, freed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, emboldened by the Holy Spirit, and who are anticipating the coming of the Kingdom of God.
The Church needs to live dangerously, throwing down the idols that assuage our complacent ideals about the world, and call out all forms of injustice that thrive when the sacred and the secular are kept separate.