Earlier I linked to several blog posts and indicated that they showed me the wide diversity within the Body of Christ, or the Church. Sometimes I am challenged by these various writers–challenged to look at my faith, to ask tough questions, to extend more grace to those parts I do not understand. At times I am encouraged–encouraged to keep pressing in to the things of God and not be too critical of others or myself when we do not measure up. At other times I am tested–tested by my lack of humility and my astonishing arrogance, tested by my tendency to fall back into legalism when I am challenged, tested by the critical spirit and legalistic attitudes I find in my fellow Christians.
With all the recent chatter about the break-up of the Emergent Church I have begun to wonder anew–What is the Church? If we are really all one Body why would one part of us be practically celebrating the end of another part of us? Is not that a kin to rejoicing over an amputated foot? I have no idea how accurate the chatter is with regard to the Emergent Church but I will be saddened if this movement turns out to be a shooting star.
Just as I am choosing to not judge traditional Building-Based Christianity by its weaknesses I have chosen not to judge the Emergent Church by its fringe or extremes. The fruit I have seen from most emerging Christians includes a renewed heart for missions and the marginalized; the desire to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem when it comes to global issues such as poverty, the environment, debt reduction, world hunger, and peace; and a commitment to walk out not just talk about the gospel even if it errors on the side of too much tolerance for the “sinners” so readily identified by more traditional parts of the Body.
I understand if the Emergent Church has rejected a label that has been hijacked by its detractors. None of us want those who dislike us to define our character. That emergers are not trying to be a denomination is difficult for the traditional Church to comprehend so rejecting a label (a label that has been used to group them together and then censure the group) is also perplexing. It should, by the traditional line of thinking, spell the end. Yet, the emergers themselves are not so befuddled. Their focus is not on building organizations. They prefer to loosely organize so that they can build bridges, co-op style communities, and net works of aid and encouragement.
I hope I am emerging like most of those who would call themselves Emergent. I hope I am becoming more producer and sharer oriented and less consumer and hoarder oriented. I hope I am identified as a Christ follower rather than a Christ scholar. I hope I try to see more of Jesus in the people who cross my path than the sinner. I hope I show the people who cross my path more of what Jesus has redeemed than why He needed to redeem me.
In one of my earliest blogs I asked if I was Emergent, not knowing much about the movement but longing for something more then what I was finding. Even though I may still be located in the Building I think I can now answer that question with a solid–Yes. Yes, I certainly hope so! And, I hope I continue to emerge out from under the trappings of group think, and the weight of legalism and tradition that functions from a place of fear. I hope I never stop emerging from the darkness of my own reason to the liberation found in Christ.