Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jesus Without Relgion

Up front I will say this: maybe when you are in the midst of something it seems like a lot of other people are in the midst of the same type of thing because your sensitivity to it is heightened. However, there seems to be a real crying out for change- politically and within the church- a longing for revival.

Revival is a great thing but as many are calling for it, they need to recognize that the cost of revival is the death of the old. And it is going to take courage to kill the beast we have fed.

There seems to be a yearning for a God movement. Phylis Tickle's book The Great Emergence theorizes that about every 500 years the Church (as a whole) goes through a massive overhaul (note: Constantine/Patrick, Luther, Wesley/Calvin). That we become stagnent and comfortable in the mold we are in must break out.

For as many books as there are debunking/disproving/nay-saying "Emergent Christianity" it would seem to this author that it is a case of "thou-dost-protest-too-much". A friend of mine Keith Drury once told someone trying to pick a theological argument with him, "While you are polishing the brass on your carefully crafted theology we are going to send missionaries, plant churches, and save souls." This is the spirit of the emergence that is starting at the margins and grassroots and is just now beginning to flex its cooperative muscle.

Part of the issue is that this movement does not yet (and God-willing never will) have the trappings of a denomination/another school of theological thought/or even a "movement" in the classical sense. That is to say that they do not have headquarters or mission statements or a collected set of complaints against the current structure or even a agreed upon set of plans to move forward- and here is why: they are concerned on with making a difference where they are.

They seek to live Jesus to a culture that hates/distrusts the (general) church but is open to talking about Jesus. They want to work against the AIDS epidemic, they want to reach out to the homosexual community, they want to really be in the world instead of building bubbles of "holiness" where no "sin" can touch them, they want to fight poverty, they want real and deep friendship that encapsulate Jesus' teaching that we would be known by our love for one another- not short 5 second greetings in "holy huddles"-, they want worship that shakes the soul through whatever gifts the Holy Spirit is to dump out, and, most of all, they want passion back in their relationship with Jesus.

The time for stoic and sterile worship, arms crossed, mouthing words that we do not even think about anymore is over. This emergence is calling for a change of life, that we would live pursuing Jesus and not religious do's/don'ts.

If Jesus did healing why are we not doing the same? If he ate and drank with the people who did not "fit" into church why are we only eating with our church friends? If we are receiving accolades from "religious" types shouldn't we be reevaluating our strategy (after all, we aren't after the praise of man and it was these types of people that were always fighting with Jesus because He did not fit their mold)?

So, I ask you, what burns in your heart? Who do you want to be? What would walking with Jesus look like? If you answer "reading more of my Bible" and "praying more" as cliché answers without thought I will just faint from frustration- not that the Word is not incredibly important as a collection of stories and testimonies of sinners and saints who have gone before us or that prayer isn't important either it just seems like we read our Bibles to read our Bibles and not to help us to paint a better picture our God. We pray a quick, rehearsed or cliché blessings over meals but do not engage in an active and passionate dialogue that will shift or view of our Creator because we are coming to better know Him, not have just heard about Him. We must stop doing things to do things and start doing things with purpose.

Go with God. Blessings on your journey, may you be covered with the dust of your Rabbi.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ever Felt Like You Didn't Know Who You Are?

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine about the Church (as in, the Body and Bride of Christ and not just where we all go Sunday morning), my role in it, and general frustrations. He asked if I had ever taken a "spiritual personality" test called APEST (to find out more, go here). The reason he stated was that many churches hire pastors expecting "shepards" and if that is not your tendency in personality then it usual can frustrate you.

Of the 5 personality types, the "shepherding" one was dead last on my list. Great. I came out as a "Prophet-Apostle". Meaning God has enabled me to discern His will (note: I am NOT claiming that every word that comes out of my mouth is His) and voice it to people and places. Prophets do sometimes foretell the future but, in my case anyway, it applies more to speaking spiritual truth.

After taking the test I debriefed with the friend who had sent me to the site and told him my "personality". He asked something very telling about myself: do you ever feel annoyed with yourself? Like you are saying the same things, even repeating yourself and you know others get annoyed hearing it but you cannot help but say it? Sort of shocked I replied: A lot, actually.

Prophets are like that. We often see things that are wrong, outside the will of God, or can be done better and we HAVE to say something. Just as with the other "spiritual personalities" they have to teach, shepherd, evangelize, or start new things- to NOT do those things would be counter-intuitive, uncomfortable, or frustrating.

So here is my prophet spiel: this is one of many things that the Church is missing and doing wrong. We have regulated these spiritual personalities to fit our mission both in which personalities are given out but also how they are utilized and if they are well accepted. These personalities must work in tandem with each other or the church will continue to cripple itself.

Think of the church movements over the last years: you have churches that pretty much only disciple (thus neglecting evanglistic or apostolic gifts); you have mega-churches that only evangelize (thus creating new believers but not teaching or even shepherding); you have inbred churches whose only concern is maintaing the status quo and making the sheep comfortable (thus marginalizing any prophetic word that will move them forward).

When any of these personalities are overemphasized, wrongly pushed, or a section of the list is omitted you have a lopsided Church. Over the next weeks I am hoping to take a look at these personalities, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they can work to make the Body stronger.