Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Not really sure where to go.

Thinking out loud.

I'm just hungry for the Real Thing. The already but not yet. Not just an experience for experience's sake, but an experience because an encounter with a living God in the midst of a community will leave you messed up for real.

Actually, I think I'm just impatient for something to happen.

Why is it that I can so freely accept the grace of God for the crap in my life, but I have such a hard time extending that grace to others?

I'm discouraged because of the state of me, and the state of the church. Not that its my responsibility, but I'm quite honestly just like --> bleh.

God, I don't know how in the world you work with crap like us, but Your power is perfected in our weakness and you delight in us, even in this place.

"God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist…Without becoming weak in faith [Abraham] contemplated [his natural insufficiencies], yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform. Therefore it was also credited to him as righteousness." Romans 4:17,19-22

"24For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it." Romans 8:24-25

How does one progress from concept to practical application? Just do it? Do what?

If I read the Bible long enough, pray hard enough, have enough spiritual gifts, am balanced enough, love enough, am disciplined enough, have I made it? I don't think anyone would agree with that assessment, but why is that I sometimes live like that?
The Gospel of Mark is so graphic this way. The first half of the Gospel is Jesus showing people how to live. He's healing everybody. Then right in the middle, he shifts. He starts showing people how to die: "Now that you've got a life, I'm going to show you how to give it up." That's the whole spiritual life. It's learning how to die. And as you learn how to die, you start losing all your illusions, and you start being capable now of true intimacy and love. -- Eugene Peterson

This is not the way our Scriptures are written. This is not the way Jesus came among us. It's not the way Paul preached. Where do we get all this stuff? We have a textbook. We have these Scriptures and most of the time they're saying, "You're going the wrong way. Turn around. The culture is poisoning."

Do we realize how almost exactly the Baal culture of Canaan is reproduced in American church culture? Baal religion is about what makes you feel good. Baal worship is a total immersion in what I can get out of it. And of course, it was incredibly successful. The Baal priests could gather crowds that outnumbered followers of Yahweh 20 to 1. There was sex, there was excitement, there was music, there was ecstasy, there was dance. "We got girls over here, friends. We got statues, girls, and festivals." This was great stuff. And what did the Hebrews have to offer in response? The Word. What's the Word? Well, Hebrews had festivals, at least! -- Eugene Peterson

And the kicker:
I think relevance is a crock. I don't think people care a whole lot about what kind of music you have or how you shape the service. They want a place where God is taken seriously, where they're taken seriously, where there is no manipulation of their emotions or their consumer needs. -- Eugene Peterson

I hear people saying yes to things like this all over the place, but I feel like I'm still hearing the same old story, the same old things. We're fighting the same wars of 20-30 years ago. They've just been repackaged to look modern. When is the next big thing going to happen? When is "ideal" going to arrive?

Probably never.

I don't think I'll ever find what I'm looking for...but I've got to ask the question of now, NOW, what and who do I invest my life in? I'm sick of the institution of Christianity, and I think everyone is sick of religion. SO WHAT? So everyone else? What do we do?

I think I like talking about how messed things are than to really do something about it. I like doing more of the pointing of the finger and laying heavier yokes on the oppressed. Its not malicious, but its much easier and safer to do that than to actually live out Isaiah 58.

Okay, now I've moved from thinking outloud to ranting.

...I should just pray.

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