“Buck Naked Faith” by Eric Sandras, Ph.D.
Chapter III: Embrace the Power of Community
How do you see your search for God? Are you drawn to a place/building, or a journey? What could you learn from experiencing the other?
My personal search for God led me away from church for many years. Honestly the “Kim and God” show were the best years of my life. However; the spirit within was restless and wanted more. I wanted more community and growth and to be able to use the gifts God had given and was revealing to me. Initially I found ‘church community’ to be the most constricting, judgmental environment I had ever seen. I avoided youth groups because of that teen judgment that was only slightly veiled hostility even at church.
I wasn’t a ‘Prom Queen’. Heck I didn’t even go to the Prom. I wasn’t a ‘jock’. I wasn’t a ‘freak’ (translation in 1980’s: I didn’t smoke, cut class, or get high). I wasn’t in band. I wasn’t a ‘nerd’. I was labeled as a cross between a ‘brain’ and a ‘drama geek’. I was never much of a conformist, as a matter of fact to this day I struggle with taking an opposing view (even if I disagree with it) just to spur a bit of a debate…or create conflict. It’s a character flaw I know, but God’s working on it. So the idea of community is a bit foreign to me. The drama ‘community’ is probably the closest I came to feeling a ‘fit’ and even that was a bit of a stretch. I was so haunted by the knowledge that it wasn’t going to be my life’s work, that I couldn’t enjoy the moment even when I was 16 years old.
I set lofty, out-of-reach goals only to prove I was the disappointment I had convinced myself I was. If I happened to excel in something I would spend so much time belittling it that other would eventually agree. It is true what ‘they’ say: “if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will believe in you either.” God was the exception.
God never let me down. God accepted me and all my own self-proclaimed limitations and imperfections. He didn’t judge my physical appearance or my book knowledge or my abilities. He did push me to think differently…to view the world differently…to see that not only was I different (and it’s not a bad thing), but He actually created us all to be different so that we could and would desire to find our fit and see that each of us together…do in fact fit!
I’m ‘drawn to’ the journey Christ has lain out. I’m hoping my flesh-radar doesn’t impede the audible flow of Jesus, but when it does I’m certain I’ll ‘feel it’ and He’ll redirect each step AND I’ll learn something along the way!~ I have learned that no step of my journey is without meaning; good and bad.
How would you assess whether a church is “healthy”? Do the ‘ABC’s’ (Attendance, Buildings and Checkbooks) have any legitimacy?
I’m not sure this question has a ‘round’ answer. I KNOW God deals with us all exactly where we are so our needs are different. Sure we can argue that there are basic needs; but the level of that need is very subjective. In as much as Jesus came to be ‘all things to all people’ I believe the same holds true for church. God has a church for each one of us…they don’t look or act the same with the exception of the love of Christ that I hope is displayed and taught. Even that definition is subjective. Chew on that one!
Make a list of the top five reasons you attend the church that you do. How many (if any) reasons facilitate your experiencing the presence of Jesus? If you chose to, could you find the presence of God in each of your five reasons?
1. God sent us there.
2. God sent us there.
3. God sent us there.
4. God sent us there.
5. God sent us there.
How have your life experiences and the generation you are from influenced your view of what Christian community is? What would you change if you could about how you live in community today?
The generational influence on my own view of Christian “community” is haunting. I avoided all organized ‘church’ and religiosity for many years because of my own experience and the expectation surrounding the experience. I am so pleasantly surprised to be a part of something today that I believe is closer to the Acts church than I ever would have imagined on earth.
It’s easy to get ‘bogged down’ by numbers or religiousness, and when I sense it coming/happening (i.e. Recent Constitution/By-laws issues)…I do still tend to ‘flee’ and have found for ME…it’s best to disengage from that process and just experience Jesus in a real way, not a conformed/denominational way. I am better now than I was even 3 years ago. I will not RUN from my church. I will choose my ‘battles’ based on God’s urging (hopefully) and I will do the work God has called me to do, as He calls me to do it. I will raise my voice and my hands in worship and praise of the most high God (no matter what building I stand in).
Ponder community with Jesus this week. Ask him to speak to you through the culture, through His word, and through His voice. What would He have you do with what He shared?
So far…Jesus has asked me to ‘trust Him’ to ‘trust the spiritual ears He has given me’. He continues to ask me to die to self (a point of regular contention for my flesh, needless to say)! We’re working on ‘stuff’, trust me!
I bet you cannot WAIT for chapter IV, huh? We’re almost half way through this book already!
EXCITING NEWS: Don’t forget this week is also “Tour of Homes”and I’m so excited to take a peek inside some of the famous “blogging homes” and see not only where they let their ‘fingers do the walking’ but other areas in the home, including the kitchen or as I like to call it: My husband’s area…How I LOVE this non-traditional marriage, where I can mow and take the trash out, but rarely do a load of laundry or cook and clean dishes. I am truly blessed among women!
*oops got a bit off track as I drifted to Never land once again….anyway…Tour of Homes, Friday 07/28/2006, be there or…well, just be there! It’s hosted by Boomama and it looks like over 100 participating…Good grief! Well you can pick and choose based on her linky on Friday!
Have an awesome Monday!
Are you all still here? Well then...here's a 'funny' I got via email today and I'll share it with you:
An old pastor was dying. He sent a message for an IRS agent and his Lawyer to come to the hospital. When they arrived, they were ushered up to his room.
As they entered the room, the pastor held out his hands and motioned for them to sit on each side of the bed. The pastor grasped their hands, sighed contentedly, smiled, and stared at the ceiling. For a time, no one said anything. Both the IRS agent and Lawyer weretouched and flattered that the old pastor would ask them to be with him during his final moments.
They were also puzzled because the pastor had never given any indication that he particularly liked either one of them.
Finally, the Lawyer asked, "Pastor, why did you ask the two of us to come here?"
The old pastor mustered up some strength, then said weakly, "Jesus died between two thieves, and that's how I want to go, too."