Monday, April 10, 2006

I Love Jesus But Hate The Church: Living The Questions

Recap of the series, "I Love Jesus But Hate The Church". Week 1, 'It Hurt(s) So Bad: Give Voice To The Pain'. The ‘disenfranchised grief’ people carry needs to find expression.

How to Be a Christian Without Being Annoying, new book

Week 2: Judgment Day: Say “No” to judging others. Say ‘Yes’ to compassion. Risk it!

From a blog: "I am 17. I quit school. Im pregnant. And I used to love church."

Week 3, 'A Building or the Kingdom of God?': The Kingdom of God heals and feeds people. It listens to you. The church has left the building. It is the life force that changes people.

“I am learning that the church is at its best when it gives itself away.” Rob Bell

Kind of like a manure pile: before you spread it around it's smelly & doesn't do much good; after it's shared on the field it provides fertilizer & brings growth.

Last week: But For the Grace of God…Grace is God’s unmerited favor. We cannot earn it; we can only humbly receive it.

"What should a real relationship with Jesus Christ invovle and how should our lives and church look as a result of that relationship?"

The United Church of Christ in the US has an advertising campaign giving these images of the church:

Shelter for the spiritually homeless

Please return, no questions asked

Turn your other cheek, not your back

Christ’s church isn't rocket science. She is the New Community of Christ’s followers. She is wholly relational – the people of God united before Him, reconciling others.

Luke 9:18-20
One day as Jesus was alone, praying, he came over to his disciples and asked them, "Who do people say I am?" "Well," they replied, "some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say you are one of the other ancient prophets risen from the dead." Then he asked them, "Who do you say I am?"

WDYSTIA? Jesus is still asking that question today...

As we study the life of Jesus we find him asking a lot of questions, indeed returning an answer with another question!

"Be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and dreams, try to love the questions themselves." Rainer Maria Rilke, German poet

Questions are very powerful. John Scully, CEO of Pepsi was lured to the computer business when Steve Jobs asked him, “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugary water or do you want to come with me and change the world?” That sounds like something Jesus asks us everyday of our life.

Living The Questions is when you know that intellectually the bungee cord might be the right strength and length for the jump off of the bridge, but jumping is still something we don’t easily do.

Live The Questions.

What are some of life’s big questions? Who am I? What are the nature, purpose and significance of my existence? Role, gender, job or circumstance?

Where am I? What are the origin and nature of the reality in which I find myself? Am I trapped, caged or free?

What’s wrong? How can I account for the distortion, pain, and brokenness in this reality? Is God good? Am I good? Do I deserve this?

What’s the remedy? How can I alleviate this brokenness, if at all? Am I doomed?

These are more powerful forces than ever before because of the time we live in. Wwade Clark Roof has identified that today we live in a “quest culture. A qualitative shift has occurred from unquestioned belief to a more open, questioning mood; from a search for certainty to a hope for a more authentic, intrinsically satisfying life.”

He who is near the church is often far from God. French Proverb

I don’t know anyone less Jesus-like than most Christians. Bill Maher

This is often true because of a dogmatic belief in churches to just shut up, smile and say that you ‘love Jesus and pretend like everything’s okay.’

To believe is to ‘be’, + ‘live’. To know your identity in Christ, ‘be’, and experience that everyday, ‘live’.

If we don’t, we end up like Melissa, at 20 a daughter of missionaries who said, “I love God but I hate the church.” What did her parents ‘be’ and ‘live’, believe?

Colossians 2:17
For these rules were only shadows of the real thing, Christ himself.

Jesus is our integrating reality.

John 14:1-6
"Don't be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there." "No, we don't know, Lord," Thomas said. "We haven't any idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?" Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Jeremiah 6:16
So now the LORD says, "Stop right where you are! Look for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Habakkuk 1:5
The LORD replied, "Look at the nations and be amazed! Watch and be astounded at what I will do! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn't believe even if someone told you about it.

Habakkuk 2:14
For the time will come when all the earth will be filled, as the waters fill the sea, with an awareness of the glory of the LORD.

This imagery is of a path, a pilgrimage, and a way of life. A way of life that embraces the questions and doesn’t render them ‘undiscussable’.

To be on a pilgrimage and following a way of life is to accept the journey together. The Hebrew prophet Amos asked in 3:3, “Can two people walk together without agreeing on the direction?”

Who are you walking together with? Why?

Community of Hope is made up of a group of people who have chosen to walk together in order to create a place where the broken-hearted can become hope-filled followers of Jesus. The first step though, is to recognize the journey motif. Until you’re ready to surrender to the journey with other folks you will remain a professional seeker, a fulltime devil’s advocate, a wanderer and not a pilgrim. This group of people, this spiritual place is not for everyone, and we never begrudge anyone from leaving, we only encourage that they find a group of fellow traveler’s to ‘live the questions’ with.

Certainty of Death, No chance of success...what are we waiting for! Gimli

Journey. The Bible knows nothing of solitary existence.

"The path to greatness is along with others." Baltasar Gracian, Spanish baroque moralist, philosopher, and Jesuit scholar

“God’s purpose is greater than your problem." Rick Warren

We think that questions are problems.

"What is happening right now?"

For some of you it is the classic dark night of the soul. Many people experience something similar in their own lives. The particulars are always different but the essential experience is the same – a deep, depressing, gut-wrenching pain. In most cases people say, "everything I thought I knew about life went completely out the window."

That’s living the questions.

The reality of naked trust is the life of a pilgrim who leaves what is nailed down, certain, obvious, and secure, and walks into the unknown without any rational explanation to justify the decision or guarantee the future. Why? Because God has signaled the movement and offered it his presence and his promise. Brennan Manning

What is happening right now? Can I be surrender to it? This asks the basic “What or who will I turn away from? What will I let go of?" The Bible calls that ‘Repent’, or we can call it 'unlearning'.

“What or who will I turn toward? What will I hold on to?" The Bible calls that ‘Believe’.

“How or where is the Spirit leading now?" ‘Hope’

I hear people moved more and more by questions and desires than answers and possessions, not being so linear and driven, becoming the pursuer of a ‘focused life’.

Philippians 1:6; 2:12
And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.
Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Slow Down and Listen.

Colossians 4:2
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

What do you thirst for? What do you long for the most? Where do you desire more connection: with the Spirit, with others, or with something else?

How have you sought to fulfill your longings? Are you satisfied?

Can you pick a close friend and exchange perspectives on the longings or unfulfilled needs you see in each other’s life?

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true, there is life and joy.

We have been culturally conditioned to suppress these inner longings. The desires that often occupy our thought space are just distractions from the deeper, nagging desires and questions of our soul.

Our hearts long to be reconciled with God, to be one with Him. This is the ‘why’ of our search for spirituality.

Sometimes we have to travel to the edge of ourselves to find our center. Buck Ghosthorse, Lakota Sioux elder

In traveling to the edge of ourselves we are surrendering our control of the journey to God. We must submit, hold still and stop squirming so he can complete his work. It takes vulnerable love, ruthless trust and raw endurance to follow His way. In the midst of such an agonizing journey the depth of the pain is matched only by His gracious love and healing power.

“God brings us to the end of our human resources and then He releases His.”

“Maybe the reason so much emphasis on ‘proving God’ through rational means is that many Christians are missing the experience of God in their lives.” Jonathan Campbell

This is why we can be theologically correct but at the same time spiritually bankrupt.

Truth can be a weapon, more damaging than healing, in the hands of the unwise.

The Bible doesn’t exist to prove the existence of God. It assumes God’s existence and tells the story, the journey, of the human relationship with God. Replete with many questions.

On Jesus' backpack, you probably would not have found a bumper sticker saying, "The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it." A careful reading of the gospels reveals His attitude was more like, "This is God's Word, stop and think about it, and let's talk about it." As John tells it, Jesus seems to have asked more questions than He ever answered outright. And those questions are still reverberating in our hearts today.

Life is full of questions, and an honest follower of Christ learns how to embrace those questions.

Rachel: “What’s urban?”

Why do kids do this? They don’t want the info. They don’t want to talk about the issue; they just want to talk. They want a relationship. They are reveling in the fact that they can say something that makes you answer. We can approach Jesus with our same questions.

We experience the reality of Jesus as we submit to Him without reservation. Theological correctness doesn’t bring spiritual fulfillment; nor does it bring right living. Spiritual fulfillment comes only from the Spirit working in us, not from how hard we work at getting it.

Submissive prayer is prayer that welcomes God to work in and through my suffering rather than begs him to take it away. It's thanking God for what he gives me rather than resenting him for what I lose. Submissive prayer is changing me from someone who knew a lot about God into someone who is experiencing God in deep, though sometimes difficult, ways.

Are you in a dark night of the soul? Is the Spirit stripping away some of the rough spots in your character? What is being stripped away? What deeper realities are holding true?

How is God revealing, or not revealing Himself through this experience?

Who is walking with you through this time? Who isn’t?

There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.

The Shawshank Redemption: it’s one thing to get the prisoner out of the prison, but quite another to get the prison out of the prisoner.

Romans 8:28
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Living The Questions is life with a compass, not a map.

“When our maps of the world stop operating in the ways we expect... we become confused, frustrated, and angry...”

“No one grieves well alone.”

“It requires us to lay aside our need to provide solutions to peoples uncertainties and sense of alienation.”


Elijah in 1 Kings 18-19

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For


Post a Comment

<< Home