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.


Joe said...


Judy said...

what is funny to me, after reading your well worded thoughts, is that it is just as easy to over think what we should do to be more like Jesus. Why is it so difficult to let go of the organization and just live in the middle of the chaos of life? Maybe that's just the organizer in me. :)

It's so simple really. If we were to let ourselves do instead of think it seems that the transition would be an easy one. And yet I still hold on... said...

I long for the day when we can stab this dragon ub the heart and watch it die. Church, as we in the western world know it, needs an overhaul or a funneral.