Monday, October 24, 2011
"Just" A Christian
Over and over again, I watched as the pastor’s agenda became the church’s agenda, because the pastor was able to persuade people that it was God’s agenda.I am struck by the tension that exists between God's working in community and the fact that a community can lead us down the wrong path. There is something to the idea that maturity implies learning the difference between what God wants and what the church wants, but in that lies the possibility of leaving community altogether.
Time does not allow me to list all the various permutations that have come to pass in recent decades. My point is not so much to examine or analyze them, but rather to point out that each and every change has been promoted by pastors and evangelical leaders in such ways that Christians under their tutelage have been expected to sign on, “follow the Spirit,” and support the program. A ongoing culture of religious expectation has been created and recreated. Faithfulness, passion, commitment, dedication—whatever you want to call it—is measured by one’s loyal participation in whatever new thing is happening in evangelicalism. We’ve noted the recent repeated calls to “radical” Christianity as an example of this.
It is in this context and out of these experiences that I have written posts like yesterday’s “It’s OK…to Just Be a Christian.” A mature Christian learns to distinguish between what the Lord expects, what the church expects, what others expect, and what one expects of oneself. I have come to believe that many of the expectations I and others try to live up to are not God’s expectations, but come from other sources.
In chemistry we talk a lot about "equilibrium" - it means essentially that a chemical system may look stable, but it is actually in a state where the reaction is running constantly back and forth in both directions. Thus while appearing stable on the macroscopic scale it is in turmoil microscopically - molecules bonding and unbonding constantly.
Sometimes I think Christian maturity is like that - reaching equilibrium.