Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Shedding Dead Ideas

Dust is amazing stuff. Look at your computer keyboard, or the top of the monitor-- it piles up fast not because we're slovenly, but because we are alive. Dust is mostly made up of our discarded skin cells. We shed our skin just like snakes do; we just don't shed it all at the same time. We shed a little each day, imperceptably replacing our outer shell until we notice that gray detritus around where we live and work.
Wouldn't it be nice if change in the Church of Jesus Christ could work the same way? I know of a man who wanted his congregation to have a unified pulpit in the center of the chancel; his way of making this change happen was to drag the pulpit to the center, one inch per week. That'll fool'em, won't it?
But eventually, someone is going to ask, "why is the pulpit in the middle of the chancel?" And when they do, the whole subterfuge explodes in the face of the leader who spent so much time and energy inching the piece of furniture across the floor.
History has turned the lights on mid-move on the Church in western culture. We have been exposed for what we are and what we have been: a people more interested in comfort than the call of Christ to self-sacrificial love, more concerned with being a target for the bullies of culture than with becoming the demonstrably different witness to Christ who transforms culture, and the world.
We face an increasingly stark choice that many of us by training and experience are totally unprepared to make: do we blend in, or do we stand out? We cannot choose by simply finding a safe place to live, or a job to hold: everything (and now, in this economic climate it is literally everything) is in flux. There is no solid ground to sit down on and not move.
So, how do we move forward?
FIX YOUR EYES ON JESUS. Worship and prayer are the oxygen of the Christian life-- they are the vehicle for communication, without which no relationship can exist.
ABSOLUTELY TRUST THE BIBLE. This may not get you applause from the PhD's, and it will elicit more than one eye-rolling sigh from those who consider themselves the arbiters of intelligence, but the Scriptures are the one compass that will never lead you astray. Listen to what God tells you in His word, and do it.
LET ALL THINGS BE DONE IN LOVE. If you ever find yourself with hammer and nails in your hand and a wrist in front of you, you are in the wrong place. If there is pain to be borne, be the first to bear it rather than the one to inflict it. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all Romans 12:18.
If we can learn to do just this, we can find our way through this shattering time.

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