Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Leaving our preferences at the cross

I have been engaged in a pretty interesting discussion on Google+ centered around my prior post, Can We Just be Friends? It has been interesting because it gets to the very fine line between unity in spite of differences and unity in spite of heresy and sin. I think we are so used to division being "business as usual" in the church that suggestions that pehaps that division is not only not normal but even unacceptable are met with some pretty strong disagreement. We grew up in the church, whether as kids or as adults, just assuming that some people go to one kind of church and others go somewhere different and that is just normal and perhaps even healthy.

In comes a very interesing post from Michael Young, What I’ve Learned in Organic Church: The Difference Between Brotherhood and Buddyhood (this includes Sisterhood) that looks at the difference between brotherhood and buddyhood:

This is the difference in brotherhood and buddyhood. Brotherhood goes to the cross, dies to self in order to see the Lord’s goals are met. Buddyhood simply wishes to see others that I prefer to hang out with met. I’m not saying that we don’t become buddies in the church. We do. But it’s beyond that…much beyond.span>
I so get that. I think we all naturally gravitate toward those we feel the most affinity for. It is rampant in certain parts of the church, like in the Reformed wing where some Christians will drive very long distances just to meet with other Reformed Christians where they are most comfortable. Charismatics like charismatic churches. Presbyterians like Presbyterian churches. We get uncomfortable and ill at ease about change and differences to our religious routine that we end up just running in the same circles, reading the same books and blogs and doing things the same way because it is what we know and what we like.

As Michael puts it,

Now, there’s nothing wrong with this. But if organic church is to work, we must take our relationship preferences to the cross. We must let them die and allow the Lord to resurrect them.

We can’t make church work the way we want it to. We can’t meet around the fact that we are all into rock music, working out, sports, outdoor activities, hunting, fishing, surfing, or a long list of other things. We have to meet around the Lord Jesus Christ and our common bond to see His eternal purpose seen on the earth; that He would have a place to dwell, a temple made up of brothers and sisters in Christ. Without that, we become just another club. And the church of Jesus Christ is not a club. It’s something much deeper, much more grand, much more precious, and holds much more responsibility.

Taking our preferences to the cross and letting them die there. That sounds great but man is that hard! One of the hardest things about seeking a deeper sense of community is the inherent danger that when you let people in to your little world they are likely to make a mess and you might find that you don't like them or agree with them very much. On the other hand in our natural state we were enemies of God, sinners in open rebellion against Him and yet He still sent His Son to die for the sins of His elect and adopted us into His family. If He did that for us I guess we can learn to get along in spite of our differences and quirks and annoying habits!

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