In this post, I take you on a journey to a fictional church you’ll
love and to one you’ll hate. Then I explain a paradox: to become the
spiritually strong church you love, it must be composed of weak people,
in human terms; and to become the spiritually weak church you hate,
strong people are enough. Hopefully you’ll feel encouraged to display
much more of your weakness in church. Dear folks: let’s get authentic
again!!

A weak church made of strong people (fictional story)

You might say I am on an odyssey through the various churches.
You’re wrong. I just found no church of sufficient quality. It started
with that little Methodist church in my home town. From age age 16 on,
I started to serve the LORD in the youth group of that church. I was
determined to kick all that old-fashioned stuff outa that church as it
deterred my youth group and the people we invited. So when we were
allowed to conduct the service at Christmas Eve we did it all
different, playing with e-guitars, bass, drums, and dancing before the
church, introducing our new style. The young people who’d been forced
in here (“It’s only once a year!”) started to rave, and some of the old
people left. We had some wrangling around the PA equipment when the
vice pastor tried to unplug the amplifier, but succeeded to praise the
LORD without any traditional ballast during the worship time. In the
end, I had to do some talk with the pastor who argued that our kind of
excessive music was unbearable here as it tended to provoke an
excessive, ungodly life. When I started to discuss the matter soberly,
I was deposed from my yout service. When I started to speak about the
matter with various church attendents after the service I was termed an
heretic and got barred from church.

So I decided that those people were too stubborn to hear the
truth.
The right faith is not the part of all people, the Bible comments on
such occasions. It was hard for me to find a new church in my town as
the pastor had written letters of “recommendation” to them, so I moved
home. Next station was a charismatic congregation. Sadly they had
already many prophets and teachers, so there was nothing to do for me
(as regards the gifts I received from my LORD), and they wouldn’t let
me either. Next I went to Bible college and met some people from a
quite cute church, but they had untolerable (I mean, really
untolerable) views on marriage, viewing it as the only sexual
relationship
allowed by God. To make things worse, it turned out that the Bible
teacher at my college thought that way, too. I couldn’t believe such
religious stubbornness in beginning third millenium, so far from
freedom.
Discussions did not help here, we only agreed that God was on our
(respective) side only. So I
nailed 95 theses (version 2.0) to the college and church door and left.

Now I’m in a really big church and I learned something: the right
people must exceed in number or cleverness, or they’re lost. We’ve here
several councils and boards to discuss every single question of the
church. And I learned that it is just as in politics: you need to
partnership with those people who think alike, to stuff the mouth of
all these trash-talkers out there (as the Apostle Paul said). Fighting
for the Gospel is a hard task (foremost, to fight those religious
people in our church who emphasize a “personal, humble relationship” to
Jesus so much and tend to not respect our leadership as the Bible
admonishes them to do). But I’d say that fighting for the Gospel is a
rewarding task also … at least if viewed from an eternal perpective.

A strong church made of weak people (fictional story)

I remember these feelings when I left work today … ‘t felt like
roaming about for some hours, bearing the weight of my thoughts to
avoid these quarrels in Hypogeon. From us 20 who met there regularly
only 8 were left. Exactly those who couldn’t go elsewhere ’cause we
lived there. I remember that I walked around somewhat, sitting down at
that little sea we called the “mirror lake”. Tried to pray somewhat as
the air was all-too-empty. Asked the Lord what’d be a good idea to do
now. No answer, as usual. “You cannot leave me that alone, Lord. I jus’
dunno how to deal with that stuff … at this thing I used to call
home.” No answer. Perhaps I need none.

Perhaps I need none, I thought. Mmh. Perhaps the Lord thinks I
know
what to do. Perhaps he teached me in times past. Ummh … ok, then,
give it a try. The usual thing to ask is, what’d Jesus do. Well,
perhaps he’d go the undermost way. He humbled himself … I read that
so often. I remember sitting there, knowing the true thing to do, and
knowing that I was goint to not do it. I’d lurk about here, get me some
food lateron, lurk “home”, in my bed, and go to work tomorrow as early
as possible. No solution, I knew it. I suddenly thought of Daryl and
the crazy way we made it up with each other after that story with
Kacie. This flirtation thing got our little community always into hot
water … that time, we were both courting for Kacie. Daryl had joined
the Hypogeon recently, so I expected him to respect the friendships
already there. He did not. We did not talk a word ’cause of that. It
contaminated the whole atmosphere, so that Kacie did not show up for
the meals any more, to not complicate stuff further. Some of the other
girls joined her. Haig advised me to accept Kacie’s decision whatever
that might be, but I did not want to lose her. Not at all.

Then some Monday eve’ after Daryl came from a walk with Kacie, he
was sorta thoughtful, coming straight up to me, saying we should
probably talk. Jus’ ignored him. He waited for me next morning, knowing
I’d breakfast and leave the house for work earlier than all the others.
He told me that he had changed his mind, realizing that there were more
possible wifes for him than Kacie, in a world of 6 billion people. He’d
quit courting for Kacie, even proposed to fully withdraw from
interfering by promising to never partnership with her. I’d need some
days to realize his noble-mindedness was real … and it took me a good
deal of courage and some hard prayer time to finally make my peace with
Daryl. We then would sit in the book pool room, praying together about
the whole thing, confessing our pride to each other and asking for
forgiveness, praising Jesus for making such reconciliation possible by
his Spirit, and I even was able to pray that he’d find another good
wife. Daryl and me had been best friends the last few months.

Something generated the question in me: why should my “home”
dissolve about the present quarrels when it was possible to get over
this much harder issue with Daryl and me? Our present issue was with
the common purse … we had taken in Reko, an ex-junkie, Cheyanne, a
deeply depressed girl who was mistreated at home and an unemployed
couple from Brazil (Damian and Natalee), and at the same time three of
us had lost their job. From then on, we had “lively discussions”: some
wanted to kick out the newly arrived members, some wanted to get Reko
and Cheyanne to search a job (without success), some wanted to make
everybody return to an own purse, some wanted to dissolve the whole
community thing due to our regular “financial disasters”.

Thinking back about all the character-curing acceptance I had
experiences in the Hypogeon I got motivated to stay, whatever that
might mean financially. That was a big step, as I was one of those who
wanted to get rid of Reko and Cheyanne. Which meant I had something to
sort out with brother Reko and sister Cheyanne … no easy job, as it
is never easy to confess that you’ve been such an ass. Back in Hypogeon
I met them in the living room and got that job done … praises, Lord.
That kinda relaxedness that creeped in now was awesome: we prayed for
each other, them guys forgiving me in the name of Jesus, and Cheyanne
would thank God for a brother like me who’d have such a courage. Then
Reko swooped for a guitar and we’d improvise some songs … mostly
about the beauty of forgiving, and of course, being so totally forgiven
by Jesus. I got this impression of being loved through and through by
my Lord … an impression I had lost (or, given up) in our financial
worries. It’s a feeling of being accepted in a way you cannot get rid
of, by a person who is for you absolutely, honestly, unfeigned and
forever. And exactly this feeling was fleshed out in the Hypogeon as I
got to know it when I joined. That kinda love has had a deep impact on
me, and now was probably the time to show what I’ve learned. The time
to accept those four new troubled persons the way I was accepted. I
knew that the ice of this whole conflict had been broken by the
reconciliation of Reko, Cheyanne and me, and felt this community
atmosphere of “brutally honest authenticity” arise again, this
flow-state like area where it was everyone’s enjoyed business to
actively stake our reputation daily by letting our fellow members see
our weaknesses and letting them know our failures, and at the same time
earning the relaxedness and intimacy of such really authentic
friendships.

Explain this: weak strength and strong weakness

In physics, forces are discerned by their results. The same in
church: a “strong” force must be present where lives change to be more
like Christ’s. What comes to our find first are “strong” human
qualities: being assertive enough to get one’s way, or cunning enough
to win arguments, or numb enough to fight through heated quarrels, or
adapted enough to survive in a hostile world. These change actions,
projects, customs, organizations, even societies, every aspect of the
outer world. But not characters, not the inner worlds, not even one’s
own. So they all do not qualify to be the strength in a church. So
human strength let a church remain weak.

Such manipulative forces cannot change characters because there’s a
stronghold around each character: nobody can maipulate my thoughts, my
will, my opinions. I myself am in total control here. So the only way
to change my characters is when I open up the stronghold, when I agree
to be changed. That’s to lose my pride, to acknowledge my poor
character quality, to admit that I’m not in control of my life, to see
there is need to change, to admit all this to others, to accept
encouragement and correction. Let’s summarize: these are the attributes
of  weakness (the human term). Exactly those weak people make up a
strong church, that is, a church where lives change. So human weakness
makes a church strong.

In the Bible, such human weakness is termed humbleness. When people
admit that Jesus is right and they are wrong, they become humble before
God. Then, Jesus’ truth can change their lives because they will allow
it. Sadly, we can lose this precious humbleness: betrayed confidence in
humany and misunderstanding God’s actions make us return to our
character’s stronghold, rendering it unchangeable again. Then, let’s
remember what holy church we desire to be a part of, let’s desire that
holy character that makes us part of it, and desire again these changes
that make us this character. Changing is risky, inconvenient and
renders us vulberable, but it’s surely worth the effort!!

Humbleness is what empowers God’s truth in our lives and in our
church. So a humble person and a humble church are highly dynamic: they
change
from glory to glory. But a proud person and a proud church are highly
static: they don’t change at all. Instead, they think they’re healthy
and refuse the doctor. Just as Jesus said: “Healthy people don’t need a
physician, but sick people do.”
[Jesus in Mt 9:12 ISV]. Humble people, those who acknowledge their
sickness, change without miracles: a humble person accepts
plain truth because it is true, and heals. Such truth can be read in
the Bible
since millenia … no need for Jesus to repeat this to us personally
… and audibly. This means transformation is a natural phenomenon, as
argued for in the previous blog post “Natural
transformation in the church
“. Also, this post gave some hints how
to live out the dynamics of the humble church – Sunday services are far
from enough here. You will realize that this needs much courage, much
breaking of social taboos. But, simply do this, it’s the way Jesus
intended his church to be! Be strong here 🙂

Humbleness, illustrated

If you have some breath left for reading, here’s a nice illustration
of humbleness as the essential part of sanctification and even revival.
It is from Roy Hession who was inspired by the east-African revival
movement.

Add the quotation about “Jesus the door” from Roy
Hession.

Before I end this post, I need to get rid of a bunch of cute names
that I researched for the fictional texts. It would be awfully sad if
they get lost, so here they go, use them as it seems fit to you: Hannah
(f), Yakira (f), Yana (f),
Yonina (f), Kanya (f), Kaylyn (f), Danya (f), Qiana (f),
Raciela (f), Rebeca (f), Rhett (m), Cécile (f), Celina (f), Tam (m),
Abelone (f), Abegail (f), Agrona (f). 🙂


Start date: 2007-09-23
Version date: 2007-09-24 (for last meaningful change)

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