Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis is aware that I am struggling with and through the nature of the church in the C21st. What is “church” supposed to look like? How does it work? What does it do? Most of all, how does it represent Jesus in the world today?
My readings have taken me through Scripture, medieval saints and more modern writers. The overwhelming conclusion that I have come to is that what we have today represents Christ poorly, is heavily organisational, is poor in the areas of relationship (with God and others) and struggles with authentic mission.
Recently I have been reading Larry Crabb’s book: Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be. There are already a couple of posts reflecting on his ideas. Today there is another extended quote:
In any serious attempt to build true community, we will wrestle with confusion, disappointment and, occasionally, excruciating agony of soul. Those struggles will compel us to fix our eyes on unseen reality—the Spirit is at work, and to believe in a better day ahead—Christ is coming back.
Our journey together to God will bring us to a point where a choice among three options must be made. 1. Go mad: Keep trying to make present community completely satisfying. 2. Back up: The search for intimacy is too risky, too dangerous, with uncertain and meager rewards. Find a comfortably safe distance from people, wrap yourselves in a Christian blanket, and live there, safe and smug. 3. Journey on: Stay involved, not everywhere, with everyone, but somewhere, with a few. Don’t give up on at least a couple of relationships. Die every day to your demand for total fulfillment now, in anything. Accept the ache in your soul as evidence of maturity, not neurosis. Discover the spiritual passions beneath the ache that are strong enough to sustain you in forward movement and to keep heaven in sight. If you put all your eggs in the basket of present community, even at its best, you will be of all men most miserable. Freely lust after the day that is coming. Let that hope keep you on course. Expect to discover the point of this life and to experience the spiritual joys available now, to get an unforgettable taste of Christ, to feel the Father’s arms around you, to feel the Spirit within you.
Crabb, Larry Becoming a True Spiritual Community: A Profound Vision of What the Church Can Be. Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
A number of things appeal to me about his ideas:
- Much of our current practice is madness.
- If we have the courage to explore the depths of faith then the journey will be tough but rewarding.
- It is a journey – “church” is not the destination.
- Our aim, in community, is to glorify Christ,
- And that very journey will shape us to be more like Christ, and although Crabb doesn’t say that in so many words, it will make our witness to Him in this world clear and distinct.
The picture that Crabb (and others) paint is something to to be passionate about – lust after! It is an image that shows our C21st lives up for what they really are – self centred and materialistic. We are selling ourselves short, but worse, we are selling God short. The body of Christ is something to be celebrated! So let us celebrate!