Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In This One Body to Reconcile Them Both to God


"For he himself is our peace who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations."

This post is not for "Theologs", but for everyone.

Here is a glimpse into my spooky side, what really is going on in Joe B all the time. I just try to express it in theological terms, not knowing what else to do with it. The stuff below was written to an old campus ministry comrade, one of the many now on the front line of foreign missions while I fight "The Battle of AT&T." I confessed:

"I just feel the heavens swirling around me again like in some days past. Something big is building in heaven and in the hearts of men, and I cannot articulate it but somehow I understand it. The huge post-christianity world-view shift of this generation sees dawning a new vision of God, and I just see the temple courts (you know, just outside the sanctuary?) filling up with unwashed nations of tax-collectors and prostitutes, entering with joyful force. And I see the priesthood of the sanctuary divided: whether to exclude them to keep it holy, or whether to risk defilement by passing thru the torn veil, by breaking the bread and pouring the wine of the Eucharist. Will we recognize the day of our visitation?"

"If that paragraph were spoken it would have had that spooky "prophesying" sound to it. This thing has been swelling for seven years as God has kept me peering into some mystery of
Eph 2:11-22, especially v14-15. These last two years God has stirred me to pray that the "church" will remain whole, and not a branch broken off as a new shoot is grafted in. I see well-meaning Dividers on the Inside and on the Outside, MacArthur v. McLaren, and I cry and say "must it be so?" (I'm much better at crying than praying.)"

"It sounds so foolish to be swept up in cosmic things when my life is such a speck."


I know this is personal, but it is profoundly ecclesiological too. And all of you are a part of it. What is the Spirit saying to the Church?

17 comments:

Bethany said...

dang. I guess I offended you by saying you only talk about theology. sorry. my bad.

"The huge post-christianity world-view shift of this generation sees dawning a new vision of God, and I just see the temple courts (you know, just outside the sanctuary?) filling up with unwashed nations of tax-collectors and prostitutes, entering with joyful force."

I love that line.

I too am simply sick of schisms in the church. After looking for quite awhile for a good church, sometimes I've considered just not going. But honestly, what would that help? The problem with church is that it's made up of people. I think the Spirit is telling the Church BE the Church and stop bickering over doctrine.

Joe B said...

Offend me? No way. You just made me stop and think about why I always think and talk about theology. There's something different in my heart.

Anonymous said...

I share your sentiments and struggle with one foot in both camps. I have few problems with those who exhibit a lesser commitment to my view of holiness than I have, but I have real struggles with Christians who deride my desire to give up those parts of the world that I think get in the way of perusing God’s real presence. For example, we don’t watch R rated movies or read Harry Potter. I don’t care that others do these things and I don’t doubt that the Harry Potter books are really enjoyable. We just decided that it’s OK to do without some things.

Robotface Shumway (Big Doofus) said...

Bethany - You cannot give up on the church. Yes, it's made up of people, but that's not the "problem." The church is the bride of Christ, created by Him and for Him. The problem is our flesh. If you did give up on it (and I'm not saying you are--and, frankly, I don't even know you)), you'd be acting in the flesh as well.

Anonymous - Who rates the movies, anyway? All I'm saying is, there are no hard and fast rules to what constitutes an "R" rating--but I'm not knocking your choice.

Joe - I'm really thinking about your post. I don't think that the Ephesians passage was meant to be prophetic (and I'm not saying that you are claiming that it is), but I see what you're getting at.

There will always be schisms in the church while on this earth--I believe. However, those of you reading this can do yourself (and the church) a favor when you heed this advice: GIVE EACH OTHER THE BENEFIT OF A DOUBT!!!!! You'll be less likely to bicker and argue. Sure, you stand up for truth, but there are times when it's ok to disagree.

That's my two cents.

scott said...

I had the most brilliant, insightful comment ever written, and Blogger ate it. Since I refuse to write all that out again, just trust that I would have said something fascinating in this space.

Joe B said...

Show a few more cards, Robo. Your two cents was worth two bucks.

Joe B said...

Scott, I am absolutely awestruck. That really brings it all into perspective.

Joe B said...

The photo was taken by Jeff Goldberg. It is a lepers' home as seen through the iron barred window of a church. I love the subtle light breaking in from the outside and glowing on the bars.

scott said...

Thoughts on Revival, by Scott: While I most definitely feel something happening, something of God and Spirit-led, I also at the same time ponder how widespread it is. Because how much do I really have a handle on society at large? What IS going on throughout the Midwest, throughout America, throughout the world? I'm confined to a tiny speck on the map, and I do feel as if something is happening, something is *evolving* here. Is it happening everywhere?

I do sometimes talk with people from far away geographic locations that feel a similar evolution. A change from the culture of churchianity to something new, something different. And I can't even put my finger on how the change will play out. Something that's less an institution, and more of what you said in your post. And it may very well be both joyful and chaotic -- how we "do" church.

Why chaotic? Because, as Rog said, we're still people. We will ALWAYS be divided, to an extent. There will be people that will lean towards the exclusion that you speak of. The question is this: Will we call them on it? Will we learn that confrontation can be healthy and progressive, if handled correctly? Will we learn accountability, honesty, and correction within our own ranks?

So that's some of what I attempted to say yesterday, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes it really gets frustrating when Christians disagree on things and then feel as though they are no longer unified because of a disagreement that has nothing to do with salvation. These disagreements should be the things that pull us together on the real salvation issues. It is like the gospel writers arguing with one another about which gospel perspective is the correct one. They both think that their perspective is the correct one, but they are still unified through Christ and are not hostile toward each other.
Scott, I completely understand what you're saying because conflict between opposing views is only going to force people to study the subject of the conflict more and dig deeper into their beliefs and others. That thought is so simple, but it seems as though so many Christians see disagreement as being a barrier between one another when it really has the potential to make everyone a stronger Christ follower.

Joe B said...

Anon:
Unfortunately, people in conflict do not examine their beliefs, they entrench them. Then they start shelling the enemy position. Quickly EVERYTHING starts to fit in the category of "the real salvation issues."

What we call "revival" is all about unity of the spirit (a la Acts 2)

The 2 greatest explosions of faith were in the 3rd and 20th centuries, in the Roman Empire
and China. In those cases people had virtually no bibles at all. No power to grapple over. No parking lots. The preacher was the guy in prison. Interesting, isn't it?

Joe B said...

I was really not just being poetic when I described this visiony thing.

What is God saying to YOU these days? In his word. In your gut. What do you smell in the wind?

Scott's feeling it. Anyone else?

Robotface Shumway (Big Doofus) said...

If you're sitting next to Scott and you smell something in the wind, I suggest moving to the other side.

Robotface Shumway (Big Doofus) said...

And another thing, the best book ever written on the church (besides the NT Epistles) was Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He was in prison at the time--because of what he believed.

Joe B said...

Okay, then, what saith Bonhoeffer?

That must be a whale of a book! I had not heard of it before.

Robotface Shumway (Big Doofus) said...

You really haven't even heard of Life Together? I thought that you had heard of everything. Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy. If you simply cannot figure out a way to get it, let me know and I'll mail my copy to you to borrow. Based on how God is tugging at your heart right now, you'll love this book. Plus, it's just THAT good.

Joe B said...

Okay, okay, I've tried everything!