20 March 2006

Toward Balance

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about the institutional church, house church (or simple church), and everything in between. I’ve been discussing social justice, church building projects, grace, the darkness of my own heart, simplicity, hearing God speak, discerning whether what you’re hearing is actually God (and not someone or something else), church leadership, and my role in all of the above. All of these efforts in some feeble human attempt to discern what pure Christianity looks like.

At different times during this process, I’ve felt personally convicted on certain issues. At other times, I’ve truly sensed the presence and peace of God. Still, at other times, I have demeaned the practices of certain Christians, more so out of an egocentric “I’m-practicing-my-spirituality-more-authentically-than-you” attitude and less out of love and gentle correction of my brothers and sisters.

I carried all of this into yesterday, Sunday, March 19, 2006, which happened to be Commitment Sunday for my church body – a day when we would corporately have the opportunity to make 3-year financial commitments to Christ for the construction of some additional classroom spaces on our existing church building, and a gym and coffee house structure on a separate parcel of land that is owned by the church. Even though I had been involved in the leadership of the campaign, I had no idea what to expect. Little did I know that for nearly six months, God had been preparing me for that very day.

It was an amazing day for me. An amazing day of worship. An amazing day of spending time in the presence of God. An amazing day of God revealing himself to me. An amazing day at the Lord’s table. An amazing day of communion with fellow believers. It was a day of refinement for me. A day of renewal. A day of growth. I literally wept for the last 20 minutes of the service (which covered the majority of the congregation walking commitment cards forward to lay at the foot of the cross, a number of songs and communion). And just when I finally thought I had pulled myself together, the same woman who had earlier “saved” me by sliding me a tissue, turned to me before she left and said: “It was an honor to worship beside you today.” I wanted to tell her it had nothing to do with me, but Christ working through me, but I couldn’t speak, as my emotions had taken my voice hostage.

He totally wrecked me yesterday. Totally schooled me. I truly believe we are all called to experience God at deep and intimate levels, but what He asked me yesterday was: “Who are you to say how someone should go about doing this?” and "Who are you to say that one way is purer than another?" I was in the throngs of a traditional institutional evangelical church and God was definitely present. And what he revealed to me was that, regardless of setting or number of people, the only barrier to Him showing up was myself and all the crap I bring with me every time I come before Him.

And don’t get me wrong...I’m not saying that hard and honest discussions aren’t necessary to move the body of Christ forward. They are. I’m simply saying that I’m done making generalizations about Christians or institutional bodies of them (i.e. churches). I believe God has carved out a place for all forms of gatherings. Nor am I saying that the institutional church is flawless. For an institution is only as good as its members and leaders, all of whom are sinners. At the end of the day, I have to trust that God is fully and totally in control of his Church and, in fact, is the only one who knows what is actually going on. I’ve thought, at different times, that I’ve had it all figured out, but in actuality, I had no idea! Above all, we are called to be a community in unison with each other. Accepting our differences as personal preferences of no eternal value and looking to the love of Jesus as our sole unifying factor seems to be a large part of what this is all about. That’s what I believe the Lord asked me to do yesterday. That’s what I’m ready to do today.

I’m trying to let go of my ego. Trying to find my Father. Reaching toward balance. Outside of His ever-loving presence, all three are meaningless pursuits. Selah.

4 comments:

miller said...

i appreciate your search for balance and graciousness to all.

i need to find that place my self.

i think the real problem for me is seperating the flawed nature of the forms or structures and the pure intent of the people who participate in those forms.

thanks for your transparency...

it is very good.

peace

Aaron Kreider said...

I finally stopped by your site... it's been a while. I really appreciate your last couple of posts. This one definetely hits home. Thanks so much for your opennes and for pouring out your heart. Accepting the differences that have no eternal significance is perhaps the thing that I desire most, and at the same time, struggle with most as well. It's something I don't even realize I'm doing, and that is why it's a struggle. So thanks for this post... for the insights.

See you around... if you ever want to come to class first service in the youth overflow... that's where I usually am. It's a great group and great teaching, and we'd love to have you.
-Aaron

Dale said...

Troy,

It's wonderful to hear that you are at peace. I have also come to peace of mind on the matter. All the fight is gone, and I'm able to bless. You are right in that God will do what He chooses to do by whatever means and in whatever place He chooses. Much of our struggle is often with our own shifting to a new way of thinking, and having to cast off the old. It's a normal transition process that oft becomes very sinful. God forgive us.

I believe He is moving in many different forms of the church. May we not trust in the form, but in God, and in His Spirit. May we be intentional about our worship and about our daily walk. We only fully come to know the truth when we are the truth. May we stop theorizing and begin living and being. God help us by His Spirit to be incarnate wherever we find ourselves.

Thank you for your true heart.

--
Looking for a city whose architect and builder is God,
Dale Kreider

troy. said...

Gentlemen:

Thanks for all of your thoughts. I was hoping to hear from each of you on this issue. Now that I've heard from the three wise men, I truly feel like this post is complete. Thanks for sharing in this community.

Peace, much like the city Dale is looking for, truly awaits! Praise God. And praise His Holy Son.