Perhaps it is helpful to notice a few things about the ministry of Christ. One is that the ministry of Christ is a ministry of great extravagance--of a reckless, scandalous expenditure of His life for the sake of the world's life. Christ gives away His life. The world finds new life in His life and His gift of His life to the world. His is not a very prudential life, not a very conservative life, not a very cautious life, not--by ordinary standards--a very successful life.
He shunned no one, not even adulterers, not even tax collectors, not even neurotics and psychotics, not even those tempted to suicide, not even alcoholics, not even poor people, not even beggars, not even lepers, not even those who ridiculed Him, not even those who betrayed Him, not even His own enemies. He shunned no one.
The words that tell of the ministry of Christ are words of sorrow, poverty, rejection, radical unpopularity. They are words of agony.
It seems ridiculous to apply such words to the ministry of churches nowadays. Yet where these words cannot be truthfully applied to the ministry of churches today they must then be spoken against the churches to show how far the churches are from being the Body of Christ engaged in the ministry of Christ in the world.
As posted on Richard Beck's blog post The William Stringfellow Project: A Private and Public Faith, Part 4. Stringfellow quote from "The Fear of God", chapter 4 of A Private and Public Faith.