Posted by: minnow | December 29, 2009

An Epic Adventure

If you have read many of my posts you probably already know that one of my five children has basically followed me out of the building (meaning the traditional setting for “doing Church”) and into a journey to find a more honest (for him) walking out of his faith.  At times I feel like the two of us are huddled together in a corner, alone and afraid.  Buildings are safe places in a lot of ways and when one walks away from them one exposes his back.  Ahem.

While I have more successfully severed ties with those in the building (I really only see and talk to my immediate family, except when I volunteer at the food bank) most of my son’s Christian friends are still “in-house”.  Therefore when he comes to me frustrated by various conversations with people who have a building perspective of Christianity I let him vent and try to encourage him. 

I just realized as I was writing this introduction that I am creating terminology that is probably just as confusing as the “Christianise” I often complain about, so let me explain–I actually do not have anything per se against people gathering together to worship God and fellowship with one another.  The Bible instructs us to NOT give up this habit and I understand the wisdom in that instruction.  My problem with the Building  has to do with the Church becoming an institution which must be maintained (financed) to the detriment of its original purpose.  When I use the term Building it is that specific expression of Institutionalized religion to which I refer.  I also have a problem with the us VS them mentality which is fostered in most Buildings.  And, that attitude is not just limited to saved VS unsaved which is difficult enough to overcome.  It is also carried over to leadership VS congregates, our denomination VS their denomination, hymns VS choruses, our non-denomination VS their non-denomination, Biblical VS more Biblical, saved VS more saved.  I understand I am making a generalization but in order to avoid having to explain myself over and over these are some of the attitudes I associate with Building-based Christianity.  Finally, when I talk about “walking out faith” I am referring to the act of putting into practice what it is I believe to be true NOT simply gathering more information so I know  the correct things, which more or less brings me back to why I began this post.

Recently on a Facebook Status Update one of my son’s friends said:  “__________is wondering what to do with his life. I want a flippin’ epic adventure Jesus :)”  Earlier this same friend wrote a post in which he dissed Hollywood’s version of adventure and extolled the Christian adventure or “doing life for Jesus”!  Normally I could say, “Amen brother let’s do this thing!”  But there in lies the problem.  This kid, and many like him, are stuck waiting for God  to do the big “epic” thing in  their lives.  They have been taught things like–it’s not about what you can do but about what God can do through you–yet have not been taught that they still are the hands and feet of the body and if they do not get off their duffs to do something, if they do not begin to put one foot in front of the other, than Jesus aint going no where! 

As fond as those in the building are of saying: “The Bible is our instruction manual”, they only seem willing to apply that teaching to personal morality issues (Do not have sex outside of marriage, do not be a homosexual, etc).  My problem with people like my son’s friend is that they want to have  God do some big thing through them but they keep waiting for Him to tell them what.  Honestly, God has already told us what–“Feed my sheep”, “Care for the widows and orphans”, “Visit me in prison”, “Bring a song or a hymn”, “Live at peace”.  And later, if we were to watch the two-hour Hollywood version of our lives–actually lived out according to the “instruction manual”–they just might look like an epic adventure.  The real truth is, in Hollywood’s Lord of the Rings, Frodo reached a point of begging for someone else to carry the ring, just like Jesus asked His Father if at all possible to take away the cup.  Yet in the end, both walked out every bloody pain-filled step of their adventure and we have been given inspiration and a path to follow because they did.

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Responses

  1. Hi Minow,
    Well, you are out of the building. Appantly, you did not have a problem with feeding the sheep and being the hands and feet. The building Christians were being the hands and feet, were they not?
    You also mentioned the people preach, do not’s and that is good if it is not majoring on minors.
    The church I belong to, has a building that is paid for. I am unhappy there, because, they do not preach, ‘do not’. They are the hands and feet. But, what a debacle. Our small groups go to bars and the guys ask each other whose wife is dressed the ‘hotest’. One woman I know is a bouncer. She lives with her boyfriend and they both attend church together.
    So, that is it? You just don’t want to support a church building?
    Sorry, I just don’t get it, now. Maybe later?
    I’ll be back to check your blog.
    Jim

  2. Jim–In most Building-Based fellowships less than 3 percent of what comes in the door goes out the door. The foodbank (in my family’s fellowship) is run completely by volunteers–fewer than 10 percent of the fellowship serve there–and it recieves nearly all of its food from the government or local stores wanting a tax deduction. I AM NOT SAYING it is not a good thing. I am not saying this act by the fellowship is not valuable/Biblical. I did not leave this particular building because housing a foodbank is a bad thing but because it is one of the only things reaching beyond its walls.
    I do not think going to bars is in itself wrong or unbiblical. I would be grieved by the talk of the men you describe in any setting. And I would truly hurt for their wives, being reduced to objects by the people who are supposed to hold you in highest honor cannot feel very safe.
    This sentence: “You also mentioned the people preach, do not’s and that is good if it is not majoring on minors.” confused me. (I do not remember talking about what my former fellowship preached). I understand that you seem to think handing down “rules to live by” is an important part of what Institutionalized Religion ought to do. In the past your blog has been full of what we should and should not do, as Christians. Certainly some of that is important though I personally believe Jesus focused on the relational for a reason. He did after all say that the law and the prophets were summed up by “Love the Lord and love your neighbor as yourself.”

  3. Hi Minow,
    Here is the line where you discussed that your church, in my words preaches ‘do and do not’….”The Bible is our instruction manual”, they only seem willing to apply that teaching to personal morality issues (Do not have sex outside of marriage, do not be a homosexual, etc”

    As I said to Racheal Evans, the blog I first met you on, If we love God, we will love our brother. It is not love for your brother or God if we do not help one another in our relationship with God. The Bible says to admonish one another, to greet one another with a Holy Kiss, to carry one another’s burdens.
    To put that in practical terms, if we do not tell a person who claims to be a Christian but is a homosexual, that God abhors Homosexuality and that is a stumbling block to that person’s relationship with God, we do nothing to promote what God is seeking. That is regaining a Family that upholds the Family Image. Yes, Love is the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. However, not walking in the spirit is disdain for Christ.

  4. Jim, to conclude your comment that tries to justify your acting like another person’s moral compass you say: “However, not walking in the spirit is disdain for Christ.” Where do I suggest one should not “walk in the Spirit”? Personally, I have rarely been moved by the Holy Spirit to tell anyone other than myself they are morally out of line. I actually believe the Holy Spirit does a much more effective job being someone’s moral plumb line than I do. (Especially since the Holy Spirit knows the hidden as well as the exposed, sins and motives, mine and the other guy’s). If my witness is unsullied as I walk it out in front of others then they can “see” for themselves where their image is tarnished. Our understanding of the heart needs of other people are so limited that unless the Holy Spirit is speaking directly to us about specific issues in someone else’s life we and they are better off if we keep our mouths closed. Who are we to say that the Holy Spirit cares more about the sin of sex in a homosexual’s life than say the sin of unforgiveness? Just maybe, if we let the Holy Spirit set the agenda for dealing with sin a whole bunch of dominos will fall when He knocks out just one.
    I simply don’t buy the “we aren’t loving them if we don’t tell them how they are messing up” (according to the parts of scripture we want to emphasize) arguments.
    Now I’m sure we could go on debating various sideline points but I’d rather keep to the topic of this post and debate other issues when they apply to the post topic.

  5. Good thoughts Minnow.

    I was just reading something that reminded me of this in the book Boundaries….

    talks about the law of ___ oh darn I can’t remember….. but basically how taking steps/actions is so necessary in our life. God can’t steer a parked car… He can steer and correct our tryings…..but He can’t do anything without some sort of substance/action. Just like He critiques the worker who did nothing with his talents — at least the others tried, did something. by doing nothing, His hands are more tied, if you will, though it’s hard for me to say that of God.

    Although — He DOES call us into periods of rest/stillness…… and I do believe that do do doing with the wrong motives is even worse than doing nothing sometimes…… BUT I think the points is — when He stirs something in us, we must not wait on others including Him to plop things in our laps – sometimes we just have to GO and mess up things and see what we learn and what He can do with our efforts.

    talking to myself here….

    but anyway — it’s funny because I’ve felt like i’ve been in this season of frustration with those who do do do, go through the motions, do out of selfsih motives, serve for how it makes them feel or so others look up to them……

    but now, I feel that God has gotten me over *that* and helped transformed my haert to have better motives & be more full of love/Him…. now I feel the call back to do do do — but now I pray it will be HIS doing, His way with all glory to Him – with my heart and motives in the right place.

    anyway just lots of rambling. my new years resolution clearly was NOT to stop rambling.

    ANyway, did that make sense? Thanks as always 🙂
    RJR

  6. Minnow,
    if you believe God does not need you to help a brother in error to find his way back, get out your black highlighter and highlight Romans 15:14.
    While you are busy with that, remove the entire story of John The Baptist.. His purpose is represented in the third candle of the advent wreath.
    We use the advent wreath as a reminder of where we were, when we turned a corner from hope to expectation and now, in a season of preparation.
    We are to help our brother in his walk and expect help in our walk. That is the functionality of community. Don’t forget to highlight Hebrews 12:14 and Psalms 27:17.
    Minnow, don’t allow human reasoning to stand between you being the instrument God uses. You have been comminssioned. But, it appears you won’t accept it. Where would we be is Paul had not become a Christian but remained a Jew? Jesus used him as an instrument.
    Why can’t you be one?

  7. JIm–Interesting that you brought up Paul’s conversion–totally without the aid of others. After he saw the light he sought the help of the disciples.
    I am not at all saying that we refuse to help our brothers and sisters or that we never encourage them.
    I am saying that we don’t always or even most effectively need to do that with our words. I am saying letting someone watch me pull the plank out of my own eye may actually be a more effective way to get the speck out their eye that hitting them over the head with how many rules and regulations I know.
    Please Jim, don’t twist my words.
    Further more, the point of this post is not to bash anyone in the trenches. The point is to say we like to look for the big “God assignments” but the truth is the Bible has already given most of us the assignment we are going to get and it is rarely going to appear with fireworks and whistles. Heal the sick, feed my sheep, preach the gospel, visit the imprisoned. In the hindsight of a person’s life these may look epic, but in the walking out they’re just hard work.

  8. O.k. Minnow.
    I understand what you are saying.
    I don’t believe in assignments. You are correct about that. God is not gaining anything by saving the ‘Big’ assignments for anyone in particular. I think it is all a matter of how much effort you want to put into serving God.


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