This book is written to challenge churches to avoid become places filled with nice people, pastors, and purposes. Too often in the American church landscape, the church co-opts the language and issues of the day and then simply rephrases them in Christian speak. They don’t say anything too controversial or counter-cultural. Willimon and Hauerwas challenge the church to be a community of resident aliens—a colony or outpost of heaven here on earth—not in a way that withdraws from the world, but in a way that is truly unique in its composition. “The overriding political task of the church is to be the community of the cross” (pg. 47)
In essence, they call the local church community to be truth-tellers. We should have the guts to speak and act as God is. They point to the Sermon on the Mount for a description of God’s vision for his community. And they point to the story of Anninias and Saphira as an example of what it looks like to be truth-tellers. Peter valued corporate truthy-ness to individual well-being. The Christian community is not primarily about making people feel good or meeting felt needs. It is about being a community that represents and proclaims God’s vision for humanity.
I loved this book, and it is a great reminder to me. They see profound purpose in the church. This book reminded me both how important and how powerful the local church can be.