Archive for September, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit that relationships are hard, and I’m not very good at them. I wish sometimes that I wasn’t so sensitive, so easily hurt – so prone to withdrawing when I do get hurt. Yet I haven’t given up, because I know that God is in his very essence relational – and we are created in his image. It’s not good for us to be alone. But how can we connect with others meaningfully and not experience pain? The simple answer is, we can’t. This is where I stumble repeatedly. I hate pain. But I know that the most fruitful seasons of my life have been the times when I’ve gone through gut wrenching pain and grief. Somehow God uses the sorrow to refine me, to draw me closer to him. The other choice I have is to become embittered by circumstances and angry at God. I’ve found that this approach doesn’t work very well in the long run. I will forgive those who hurt me, even if it kills me, which it will. That’s okay. There’s a lot more at stake here than my hurt feelings. I can love people even if I don’t agree with them.

What matters more to Jesus? “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart”. I haven’t stopped longing for authentic relationships, but I’ve grown weary of hoping to find them within the context of “The Church” (church, the institution, not the body of Christ, the ekklesia that Jesus intended us to be). Of late I’ve noticed that my friendships with non-Christians are more authentic than the ones I have at church. What is it about “church” that creates an atmosphere of fear, pretending and hiding? I feel sorry for people in positions of leadership. Even if they want to be real, it is enormously risky for them to step out and admit their own frailties, in order to foster a culture of authenticity – but I wish more would! Who cares about money and church attendance when the deeper things of God are at stake? Many will stay with the status quo because it’s less complicated, safer. Maybe if my pay cheque depended on keeping “the pharisees” of the congregation happy I would compromise, too. I sincerely hope not.

I have a dream. Imagine extracting “church” from its usual context, and moving it to something more organic. Not a place we “go”, but a way of “being”. I love the idea, for example, of inviting a bunch of people over for brunch on a Saturday or Sunday morning. We could enjoy a meal together, talk about Jesus, read the bible, sing some songs – allowing everyone present to function in their natural and spiritual gifts, and as such, being a real expression of the body of Christ. A family setting, a natural place for relationships to occur, for ministry to occur, for discipleship and mentoring to occur. I know I’m not alone in having this dream. The Spirit of God is moving in the hearts of so many people to restore His Body to the living organism He intended it to be.


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I was invited over for lunch today with an old friend and her new girlfriend – well, new to me – they’ve been seeing each other for close to two years. We had a great time together – a delicious meal, lots of good discussion and laughs. It has me thinking tonight about the “christian community” and how they would respond to such a thing. I know I’m generalizing, but I’d wager (if I were a betting woman) that many christians would “tut tut” my friendship. I think that’s a real shame. I have no doubt that Jesus was right there with me, enjoying the companionship of these two beautiful, intelligent women. Why? Is it because he has shifted his moral compass? No. But Jesus, God incarnate, loves us because that’s who he is – not because any of us deserve it. If Jesus’ love was conditional on our behaviour, he would have to shift his moral compass every time. None of us deserve God’s love. We’re all in the same boat in that regard.

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Over at The Carnival in My Head Kathy Escobar talks about the body of believers she’s involved with in Colorado – called The Refuge. At times she rightly laments the fact that they are barely making ends meet, month to month – because they’re a community embracing people on the margins – societal and “church societal” rejects, so to speak. I decided that I want to support The Refuge because I love what they’re doing. It got me thinking about money and the church. Suppose The Refuge started to get a huge influx of funds from people like me – since this is all on the www, it could happen. I wondered whether having lots of money would get them off track from loving and serving forgotten, marginalized people. Would they start  trying to find ways to spend the money on “stuff”? Can an abundance of money actually corrupt the body of Christ? Okay, this isn’t a really profound idea, but it worries me big time to think of how Western churches spend their money. How can we justify spending millions on new buildings when there are people in our big cities living in poverty, not to mention people on the other side of the world dying of starvation?

And how is it decided where the money will be spent? If big donors have a particular “slant”, will this be an influence? That gets me wondering whether it’s possible that people whom God calls to be pastors might actually end up being politicians, trying to placate the most influential, wealthy members of their congregation. God help us if this ends up being the case.

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