so, i haven't written in 2 months and im sure all of you who are dedicated to these ramblings have been 'sleepless in seattle'. There is no specific topic or inspiration for this blog, just simply a need to write and hopefully come out on the other side in love and in Christ. For me i struggled for a long time saying the words, "i love the church" because of all the connotations and ill-feelings that come with that realm of community if it could be labeled a community for all its worth. Not to sound pessimistic in this endeavor but i think we need to re-examine what it is that 'the church' represents. If you are not aware, i am currently furthering my education with a Master's degree...oh how wonderful. While attending seminary i have friendships that cross the typical 'boundaries' that are so often promoted within each denomination because of a difference in belief and value. This type of fragmenting that occurs not only in 'the church' but in all sectors of life has become an epidemic. We are in need of a cure powerful enough to heal all the bitterness and anger within and against Christianity. Quickly, the early church grew rapidly through two methods...martyrdom and compassion...both of which were not agendas.
I grew up in a Pentecostal tradition which usually emphasizes a charismatic viewpoint in the Xn life whereas a Lutheran tradition might emphasize a liturgical viewpoint...both of which are needed. What we find is that individuals who hold onto one viewpoint and schematically look upon the other, are spiritually sick. What we need is, back to my original statement, 'The Church'. What is 'the church'? It is all of us who are connected with a few fundamental beliefs, such as,
1) There is one God
2) God is three
3) Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God
...and after these we, in the past, have begun to 'split hairs' or become divided on bits and pieces of belief. Why? I think it is out of fear. We are scared to realize that God is bigger than our tradition; bigger than our particularities; bigger than our hearts. We have been indoctrinated to believe that we, as humans, must monitor and enforce strict parameters so that the body of Christ will not fall apart. This is fear. This is a burden unnecessarily too large for any human hand no matter the size and effort. We must begin to function out of love and freedom. Free to be confident in our own love and relationship with God so that we can allow another to live in theirs. This is the beginning of trust. It is allowing the other person to experience God in their own manor thus allowing us to learn from each other. The friendships that i hold close to me right now are the following backgrounds...
'New Reformed' (Calvinist)
Greek Orthodox (Antiochian)
There are other traditions out there, but these are the ones accounted for in my primary relationships at this time. Simon, we've had a few enlightening classes together so you are in my list. Im telling you, there is nothing better than hanging out with others who love God in different ways. I find myself challenged and encouraged by the disciplines and rhythms set forth by Scotty, Mike, Ben and others. This is why, recently, i have been able to physically say the words "I Love the Church". The Church is big and full of life. The church is not our building or our house, our doctrine, our belief systems, our systematic theology, our values...it is God. I have found that the life of a Christian is built on love and freedom not on expectations and resumes. I am challenged in this time of life to find new ways of communicating with others. We must find new signs and symbols that represent the inclusive nature of Jesus Christ; signs and symbols that shatter modernity and even post-modernity/late-modernity. How can all of us move into a new paradigm that compels all of us to say...I Love the Church? I am not calling for all of us to pick up a particular agenda...i am calling for all of us to drop the agenda. No longer should we live with this oppressive theology of division through a need to 'herd' the church. We must begin to celebrate and encourage individuality. We must make room so that growth is possible in each of our lives."