Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Word and Deed

It is clear that to set word and deed, preaching and action, against each other is absurd.  The central reality is neither word nor act, but the total life of a community enabled by the Spirit to live in Christ, sharing his passion and the power of his resurrection.  Both the words and the acts of that community may at any time provide the occasion through which the living Christ challenges the ruling powers.  Sometimes it is a word that pierces through layers of custom and opens up a new vision.  Sometimes it is a deed which shakes a whole traditional plausibility structure.  They mutually reinforce and interpret one another.  The words explain the deeds, and the deeds validate the words.  Not that every deed must have a word attached to explain it, but that the total life of the community whose members have different gifts and are involved in the secular life of the society in which they share, will provide these occasions of challenge.  But no one will know exactly when and where and how this happens.  It is always a work of the Holy Spirit.  It is always mysterious.  The ways by which the truth of the gospel comes home to the heart and conscience of this or that person are always mysterious.  They cannot be programs and they cannot be calculated.  But where a community is living in alert faithfulness, they happen.

Lesslie Newbigin, page 137 of The Gospel in a Pluralist Society
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