How pretentious is that?
I’ve got some thoughts about Church that I need to get out. I realized the other day that if I really intend this to be some kind of record of my life and a deposit for my kids to be able to remember who I really was, how I really felt, and what I really thought, it would have to include more about Church. It is the community of followers of Jesus that consumes a great deal of my time, energy and attention.
During my “Bible College Days”, which I mostly haven’t written about yet, I sat in on a tribute to the oldest and longest serving member of the faculty. His kids, one after the other, told the same story of feeling “alright” with having had to share their dad with the Church while they grew up. They didn’t see him as much as they wanted to but they knew they were sharing him with the Church. I started a prayer then and there that I’ve kept up to this day, “Oh God, may it never be with me…” Church isn’t my mistress, surrogate kids or home away from home. Church for me is the community of friends, followers of Jesus, of which I am a part.
About 6 years ago a group of us started meeting together here. Our little community has grown over the years but we’re still not “big”. I’ve been involved in “ministry” since becoming a follower way back in the early 80’s and taking off for Bible College. I don’t come from generations of “pastors” or hardcore (or even softcore) evangelicals. I’m 45 right now and based on experience with the Church in my life I can say with confidence that this is my final gig. I’m committed to this community but I am completely out of juice for any idea that involves going to another church to start or be part of a whole new situation. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve got no ambition when it comes to treating Church like a business opportunity or a car – I’m not looking to trade up, move up or any other “up”. In fact, if it weren’t for the stories of my friends and being invited to be part of their stories, I’d be done now and trying to be the best manager Wendy’s has ever had. As it is, I really do think we’re taking over the world, one heart at a time, story by story as we share with each other this story that we find ourselves in.
If you’ve ever read C.V. before you know that a big part of this has to do with how overwhelmed I feel at times when I take a look around beyond our local community of followers and see what’s up in the Church. It’s the thing that brings on depression for me more than any other thing in my life. Like the mosquito in the nudist colony I’m weighed down by the work in front of me.
What sort of things am I talking about? I struggle with the pressure to be a Republican/Conservative in my politics that seems to be part of the deal here in NorthAm. I struggle with false promises of health, wealth and preferential divine intervention that seem to come along with the package. I feel pressured by tendency to claim that tithing to the local church is commanded or part of the new relationship Jesus established. I bang my head against an unseen wall when the “well, since it didn’t work out (or if it doesn’t work out) it just wasn’t God’s will” reasoning gets regularly tossed into conversation to make us all feel better. I can’t help but giggle when someone suggests that the democratic system is a divinely inspired system of government or that it’s how Church government should function. I’m awed by the mental gymnastics required that read the last book of the Bible are somehow manage to put the US of A right smack into the middle of the culmination of the Ages. I can’t shake my frustration with people who tell me that the size of their church and their budget proves God’s blessing and approval – but fail to apply that same principle to other groups/religions with more money and more adherents. More than anything else I’m stunned more and more by the simple truth that I’m part of the very same group (religious leaders) with whom Jesus had the most trouble because we keep adding rules, guidelines and ‘covenants’ to the freedom for Christ came to set us free.
That’s not really an exhaustive list even if you’re exhausted by reading it.
And this isn’t an exclusively “Christian” blog but I am going to be writing down some thoughts over the next month. I invite you to participate with comments. Agree. Disagree. Shed some light on some stuff for me. Add your own mysteries to the story. Or not. But in part, this is who I am, this is what jolts my heart and keeps me living wide awake.
I’m involved in a counselling process at the moment as a client. Someone is helping me and a friend work through some relational conflict. Last week I was told that one of the reasons for the conflict is the high value I place on truth and integrity. I’m still processing that. I do think truth matters though and want to get some stuff down here about where truth and church overlap for me. I hope to keep it interesting.