Fear and Disillusionment

I have a couple more posts written on the subject of ethics . . . they need to be cleaned up a bit, but that's not why I don't click "publish". I don't click publish because I have become strongly aware that the prime goal of most of my readers seems to be that we create a community of "good Christians" living "moral lives" and getting all the social riches of the evangelical version of the American dream. We aren't guilty of the "health and wealth" gospel so much -- although we certainly want that too! -- but we are guilty of the "happy family that is God's good plan" gospel. The goal is that happy marriage, happy home, and good kids -- and God and God's plan to get there are our tools to get it.

Right now I don't feel like writing out my "heresy", because I care about being part of our community. But I will!

My heresy is this: God doesn't really care if you have a happy marriage or good kids or riches and power. Sometimes it is His plan to give those things, and sometimes it isn't. God cares whether you are walking with Him, and becoming a person so filled with His Spirit that you show the fruit of the Spirit in your life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. God will lead you to be a person of integrity who has the right values and who acts in godly, righteous ways. But that may be in the midst of a marriage that never is that good, and with finances that never quite stretch to give you all you feel you need -- let alone want, and with kids that rebel and embarrass you.

My further heresy is this: we are called to love each other in real life, and to allow people to go through a process of growth and commitment, the way God does. When we "screw up", we are called to point out the lesson about life there -- "if you act this way, these are the possible consequences, and so we are told to act this other way, because God wants these other consequences for us" -- both to the one who screwed up and to the rest of us. We are called to push on toward "perfection", but understanding God's way of bringing that power to our daily life. That means we don't get to SAY "you don't have to be perfect to come and start the journey. God is the One Who will heal and change you as you continue to follow" and then ACT EMBARRASSED for people when they tell the truth about what that process really looks like in their lives.

My last heresy is this: Leaders who talk about community and limit their experience of community to "good Christians" have no right to think they are being obedient to the God Who as Jesus spent most of His hours building real relationships with anyone but pharisees, not trying to bolster the pharisees. A "good church" is not a community of pharisees discipling pharisees. A real church is a community of transparent leaders telling the truth about their own journeys, and leading us forward in learning how to authentically be followers of Jesus as we live our real daily lives. There is nothing godly about putting on an act "for the cause of Christ." All that does is rob the gospel of its authentic power to change us.

We have amazing power to really know God and really let Him bring His kingdom to us and through us. There is nothing more nauseating than seeing people in leadership ignore that power and put on a show of "righteousness" that robs onlookers of access to a community that might actually bring them into that way of transformation.

But God's call to each one of us is the same: today know me and obey me, and love the people I put in your life in real ways. Experience -- right here and right now -- My power to change the world, as you let Me change you and use you to change others.

And each of us can enter in to that intimate place of solitude with our God, experience Him in all His amazing glory, and leave to find Him in our community of faith, and inject into that community a fresh spirit of obedience and worship and love. That is my goal today.


At Thursday, August 21, 2008 at 10:39:00 AM PDT, Blogger Neal Locke said...

From one "heretic" to another, I'm glad I read this, Maria (and that you linked to it through the presbymeme). Especially since I've been screwing up a lot, lately. These are good words to hear, and to take to heart.


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