recognizing an alternate temptation

This chapter has been a tough one for me to write about or comment on.  At first I wanted to attribute that to a hectic schedule of too many things going on and not having the focus to delve into what Tim is conveying.  But after having read this chapter four times, I think my delay in commenting is due to this chapter being too real for where I find myself right now.

Tim talks about a second response to extreme changes in our surroundings as one of doing nothing or simply reverting to what has happened before or the “anti-experiment”.  I think this is where I find myself right now.  Much like the Israelites in 1 Samuel, I’ve spent the past several years asking questions in my discontent, but as I’ve regained my lost security within the local church, I’ve failed to answer those questions that I asked.  Or maybe a better way to say that;  I’ve failed to acknowledge the answer to those questions in spite of my move from discontentedness.

I remember during the time when I was immersed within the emergent movement and arrived at a place where I knew that it was time to rebuild and not reside within deconstructionism.  There were dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of questions that haunted my search for meaningful existence as part of the church.  Some of those questions were answered during that time, others have become apparent since then and others have been placed on the shelf to be forgotten.  I’m not sure I’m going to get an answer on all of them – or maybe I’m not willing to accept the answer that I’ve been given.  Either way, I don’t want to return to that place of discontent and deconstructionism.  So, I’m going to try to pull together a list of those questions that haven’t been answered and spend some time trying to find the answers and not just let them fade as unimportant details from a painful time.

I feel like I took the path of the Philistines.  I went to great detail to find my place – and the place of God – outside the community of faith.  And I became very comfortable in that place until I had to acknowledge having a role and responsibility within the church as well as within the community – as if they are separate.  I’m not going to quote Tim’s entire paragraph on page 97, “We are all living…”, but this paragraph offers a tremendous amount of hope for one feeling like they’re the only one that thinks there’s something wrong with what has always been done a certain way.  It was this realization back in the late 90s when I encountered Tim and others within emergent that, in my mind, gave me the freedom to be honest with my discontentment with the organized church and opened my eyes to not being isolated in my feelings.

I find the recognition of God working through youth and present leaders resisting change and attempting to silence the youth a sobering reality when looking around the landscape of the organized church.  I have the pleasure of getting to know leaders from many different churches and denominations and recognize the same plight in a more passive-aggressive manner today.  How many dying churches are still trying to get “them” to become “us” while they creep towards extinction?  That used to frustrate me, but I’m reaching a place where I think that may just be part of the process God uses when the tides of change are too drastic or rapid for a generation that has been faithful in following, but have become a culture of their own instead of being entwined with the greater culture of their surroundings.    I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

much love,
– mark