I have become increasingly convinced that the whole of life is intended to be lived in community. I don’t mean the tie dye shirt, hemp underwear, and cow dung houses kind of community, although I am sure that could qualify. (I am also sure that a house made of dung would still be cleaner than anywhere I lived before I was married and taught how to clean.) What I mean is that written into our DNA is the need for other people to be let in on what is going on in our lives, including the embarrassing or even downright ugly portions. I would like to think that the past three years I have gotten a little closer to the way I am supposed to live regarding other people, although it is still unnatural for me.
I highly recommend the article “Physical Work, Spiritual Health,” by Dr. J. Matthew Sleeth.
Here’s an excerpt:
All honest work can be done for the glory of God. As time passes and we grow in our understanding of God and the uniqueness of this planet, we reject more and more “laborsaving” machines. There is an old saying: If you are troubled, chop wood and carry water. This is wise advice. If you pray at the same time, so much the better. Begin to build an hour of work into your daily life. The result will be more life in your day. The flip side of work is rest. God commands all of us to take a day of rest each week, but how many of us take His advice?
“After we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides, and gravity, we shall harness the energies of love. Then for the second time in history, man will have discovered fire.”
– Teilhard de Chardin
We are all emerging from something. I like the biblical metaphor of emerging from Egypt to Sinai and beyond. The process of becoming a former slave, part of a new people, and a person with a mission.
A pivotal question for us all to ask ourselves as we leave behind our past, is whether we will allow our past or our future) to define our present.
Sounds good, eh? However, when the rubber hits the road it becomes a different thing. For some of us that means letting go of bitterness over having been lied to in the past. Focus instead on the overwhelming amount of truth that was imparted to you. For some of us that means holding on to our identity as members of a flawed ancestry, rather than attempting to embrace a new identity that is not really our own.
The “emerging church” sparks a lot of reaction these days, and I have often said that I like a lot of the questions they’re asking though I cringe at some of the answers posited. I was glad to read someone from the midst of the emerging movement say that it is not enough to embrace disequilibrium, one must also cling to the healing nature of the Gospel message.
The emerging church is a place where people have felt the freedom to explore questions and experiment with new forms of lifestyle and corporate practice. Often these questions have been about the essence of the Christ-message, vocation, the nature and form of the church, cultural and philosophical analysis, and the present agenda of God in the world.
We should acknowledge that, for many of us, the door was opened to re-imagine faith and the church through pain, disappointment, failure, fatigue, burn-out, public or private humiliation, or a sense of personal alienation. …
At times I’m fearful that permission to be deconstructive has attracted personalities that are prone to criticism, angst, and melancholy. Some of us seem to avoid our unresolved personality issues, organic depressive tendencies, and relational difficulties by transference to a perceived “spiritual crisis.” Some among us need encouragement and support to face our personal difficulties more directly, rather than attributing so much of our struggles to ecclesiological or philosophical issues.
My question is: will we embrace the transforming changes the Holy Spirit is working in our lives while still cherishing our history, or will we plant the seeds of our own brokenness in the lives of our children? Thereby forcing them or more likely their grandchildren to working through the same issues that crippled the beginnings of our spiritual walks.
“Our prayer ought to be short and pure, unless it happens to be prolonged by divine grace. In community, however, let prayer be very short.” – St. Benedict of Nursia
It has become increasingly important to me that we view ourselves as within the stream of God-worshippers who have attempted to faithfully serve and to grow in learning and obedience for as long as history has been recorded.
To view ourselves as outside that stream is a seed of arrogance and divisiveness that has no healthy fruit. We need to recognize that as much as we strive to straighten our theology, as long as we inhabit finite bodies we will have finite understandings of God’s Truth.
Consider this quote by Eberhard Arnold, which has resonated with me for some months:
“Let us consider the community of believers we Christians are always talking about–this one organism alive through all the centuries. What is the Bruderhof, then, with its culture? What are all the other denominations, Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren? Whatever good is in them has come about only because they are surrendered to, and gripped by, this stream of life. We must not lay too much stress on the Bruderhof or any other movement. Our community will pass away just as many others have passed away. But the stream of life to which we are surrendered can never pass away. That is what matters.”
Can we admit that whatever is good in our particular culture of God-worshippers has come about because of the Spirit’s work within us, and that whatever is less than God’s glory is due to the degree with which we fail to surrender our entire selves to His transforming work? Can we admit, that like all God-worshippers, of all history, and of all cultural streams that we will be less than perfect in our apprehension of God’s Way? Can we permit this truth to plant a humility within us that views our brothers from other theological, cultural, or historical streams as fellow God-seekers that grasped some aspects of God’s Way and missed others, just as happens with us?
I would like to suggest an answer to the ongoing debate between those who argue “No Torah” and those who argue “All Torah.”
The answer to “No Torah” vs. “All Torah” is: KNOW TORAH.