Monday, January 09, 2006

where is the line?

I fear I’m a bit too naïve. Or maybe its that I’m too idealistic. I haven’t lived long, and I certainly haven't ministered for long. 6 years of vocational ministry just doesn’t produce a deep well of experience. I’ve read some books, even a lot of books considering I didn’t start reading…really reading…until I was 19. But still, a few C.S. Lewis books here, a couple of A.W. Tozer books there, throw in some John Piper, Brennan Manning, Donald Miller, Doug Banister, and still, I’m no scholar. What I’m saying is…I’m most likely very lacking in wisdom. I’m probably incredibly naïve. And I know that I’m way too idealistic. But, of course, I can’t really put my finger on any of it because…I lack the wisdom.

This is frustrating…really frustrating, actually. Because as soon as I see the church, my church, missing it, whatever “it” may be, I wonder if I should say something, push for change, strive to make Christ’s bride more presentable for the coming wedding day. Or…am I being too naïve…too idealistic. Has this problem, that seems to shine like a neon light to me, gone unnoticed until now. Until I, in all my lack of wisdom and experience, have caught an unsettling glimpse? Could the elders have missed it? Could the minister have missed it? Surely not. They must have caught on long ago and fought the battle already, and in their experience and in their wisdom have decided that it was the lesser of two evils, or middle ground between two extremes, or…or something. But maybe they haven’t. Maybe they really did overlook it.

The problem is that I don’t know where the line, between myself expecting too much and the church not being enough, is. Cause we aren’t. That is all I do know. The church looks nothing like Christ. NOTHING…and it kills me. But again, I fear I’m too naïve…too idealistic. Christ was perfect, sinless; he was freakin' God incarnate. And the church is made up of broken, incomplete, sinful men and women who haven’t got a clue. But still we can be more. Right? We need to be more. But where is the line? Somebody please tell me, where is that line? Because I don’t want to be so foolish as to blow past it. I really don’t. But I also don’t want to be so fearful as to never approach it.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I think we've given up. I think we are satisfied with what the church is, a country club to keep us comfortable. No one wants a real faith. Not one that would make you sell all your possessions and give all your money to the poor and join them in the soup line. Seriously. We don't want a faith that demands change. We want one that will fit with our lifestyle. I think we've made living a purpose driven life our purpose not the ideas behind where that comes from. Unabashed worship. Like David in his underwear. Dream-sacrificing service. Like Mother Teresea. Ego-sabatoging evangelism. Like St. Francis. Self-crucifing Discipleship. Like David Nassar. And real community. The way the early church had to just to survive. Instead I think we make the purpose to read the book and check it off our list. We don't want it.

bill said...

i agree completely. most churches are nothing more than country clubs who offer "eternal life", instead of golf. our main concern is our growth and upkeep. we don't say it...but our spending does. its sad. and in needs reform. but frankly thats a bit scary, because the church/life described above, while i agree 100% with it, scares me. i want it...but it scares me.

Cody said...

I don't think Paul was satisfied with his churches. Christ often had to correct His followers. One of His disciples even got Him killed. If their churches weren't up to snuff, why should ours be any different?

Maybe it's not up to us to change the church--even if we're pastors. Our calling is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself...and that's more than enough to occupy our existence. Constantly shepherding our own wayward hearts back to the Father is the best we can do, and certainly seems to be more than I can accomplish. "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

I like what you write, Bill. I like how you say it. I like John Piper as well, and I love the fact that you care about such things.

I'm talking to myself as much as you, when I say, "I think we should forget about trying to change anyone else, much less any institution." If we focus our attention constantly on the author and finisher of our faith, we will accomplish all that we are meant to in this life. The hard part, of course, is in constantly putting Christ at the center of our attention.

Are you familiar with the writings of Brother Lawrence?

bill said...

Cody, thanks for your thoughts. I agree completely. I have not read anything by Brother Lawrence. What would you suggest??