When the church is divided by ethnic separation and political polarization, the kingdom of God is revealed less fully to our neighbors, and has a gravely diminished impact on communities. Sadly, our neighbors today are less likely to see the church either as an authentic spiritual body or as a positive social force – and these two issues are intimately connected. In this powerful and personal new talk, Jules Martinez of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School points us toward essential kingdom virtues and practices that help local churches grow together and make the kingdom visible and effective.
The Economic Wisdom Project offers faculty and students an invaluable resource: short and highly accessible videos connecting the best of theological scholarship to pressing problems in the public square and the economy. Through our Economic Wisdom Project Talks, students have access to brief, engaging, robust presentations from leading voices in theological fields. Consider assigning one of these talks to your students!
In a newly released EWP Talk entitled “Reconciled to Reconcile: Making the Kingdom Visible in a Divided World,” presented at Karam Forum 2020, Martinez issued a timely challenge to the church to live with renewed devotion into our identity and mission. We have been reconciled by God’s power, on his initiative, to be ministers of reconciliation. We participate in God’s work of redemption and bear faithful witness in the world by the way we live. Ourvertical reconciliation with God roots us within the historic and credal orthodoxy of our faith, and a resulting horitzontal reconciliation is embodied in equitable relationships and work for justice in our communities.
Reflecting on the devastating destruction he saw during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, Martinez highlighted the church’s unique role in responding to this disaster. Through the Christ Collaborative, local churches modeled sacrificial love for their neighbors and a faithful public witness to Christ in the midst of crisis. They shared resources and competencies, collaborating across congregations and creatively partnering to meet urgent needs, generously serving over the long term to rebuild and restore their community.
Martinez also recounted how a diverse coalition of churches in Waukegan, Il. flooded a public hearing with over 250 people to testify against the prospect of a casino being opened in the community. The churches apologized for their prior lack of concern for the flourishing of the community, testified to the social ills casinos create, and called upon the city to find a more constructive way to expand economic opportunity to local workers seeking to put their productive capacities to good use.
Martinez identified specific virtues and practices needed for effective reconciliation. In divisive and anxious times, the ministry of reconciliation honors the catholicity of the church, demonstrates Christ-like humility and speaks for justice in public affairs while maintaining a prophetic independence from partisan loyalties. These virtues are exemplified by particular practices or corporate spiritual disciplines, including seeking common projects across diverse congregations, transcending socio-cultural differences to share resources and competencies, and partnering for the long term.
Check out our library of EWP Talks, which are categorized by topic so you can find a great talk for your classroom quickly. Consider assigning this and other talks to your students in the coming semester!