Thursday, April 22, 2010
Where Your Trust?
I regularly ponder the value of Christian advice. The church so quickly and glibly offers prescriptions and formulas for abundant living or a successful marriage. Most of us either can’t meet the standards or can’t make it work. Churches bring the AA adage “fake it till you make it” to a whole new level. I attribute the long seepage of cultural capital from Christendom to the failure of Christian advice. That isn’t to say that the advice hasn’t often been good, but the pace of change has made it too inaccessible or not applicable.Interesting approach, he seems to be emphasizing the friendship over the "quality of advice." Hmmmmm....
Christian advice rightly sees God as our help, which is obviously needed, but makes him out to be an impersonal utility dependent upon the application of the advice. This is the heart of every other religious tradition. John 15, the great passage of vine, fruit and abiding turns into a discussion on friendship. Jesus no longer calls his disciples (and via them, us) slaves, but friends. Jesus entrusts the very treacherous journey of his disciples (and via them, us) to friendship.
Sometimes he is right - absolutely. Sometimes we need a friend more than we need advice and it is forever to the shame of the the church that we offer advice,or worse, "professional counseling" when what we need to offer is genuine friendship. The kind of friendship that does not merely reflect yourself back to you, but actually suffers with you, helps you carry your burden and loves you regardless. The kind of friendship that cannot be built in a short period of time, that comes from living together through thick and thin, good and bad, ugly and pretty.
But to me the bottom line on all this is a slightly different. He points out that ultimately we must rely on or friendship with Jesus. Indeed, but we are the instruments and agents of Christ. His reasoning is, of course, as fallen creatures we an never offer the kind of friendship that is truly needed. Fair enough, but the reason we cannot is because we likewise, do not rest on our friendship with Christ sufficiently. We offer advice instead of friendship becasue it is "safer" for us. I also think that if we were sufficiently tuned into Christ, we would know when to advise, when to befriend, and when to say, "I'm not the expert, you need to talk to...."