What in this chapter really resonated with your journey and why?
As we’ve seen throughout this book, the new creation thrives in an environment of freedom and love and depends on transformation coming from within, not conformity imposed from without.
I have seen lots of forced conformity in many IC’s, and I even saw forced conformity used in some IC’s that taught against it. It was sad to see that kind of hypocrisy.
Don’t force it on those who don’t want it, however.
This is something that I found in my own journey… If people don’t want this sort of thing, it will quickly become obvious… and any more discussion of it with them will only create arguments, and bad feelings between people. I have found that I have been better off dropping the subject and simply trying to be a friendly person.
If you can’t find his church among the congregations you know, then maybe it is time to look beyond it and discover that there are so many ways to be part of his church.
Unfortunately I have found this in my area… I don’t feel comfortable or like I fit in at any of the IC’s in my area, whether they be traditional or contemporary.
However, I’m learning to be a little more open and friendly to people around me… It has been a long journey, and I’m still learning.
Bailey, NC (USA)
On the darker side of those congregations that are simply fiefdoms for bullies and insecure leaders that take people captive to there will be manipulating them with fear and guilt. …
These groups often use the language of radical Christianity and atract passionate people, but that passion is soon twisted into legalism as everyone is told to follow the leaders of vision exclusively, to view other groups with the disdain, and to abuse others by overtly or covertly marking and shaming people who do not conform.
How I wish I could have read those sentences here in 1983 it could have saved me a whole heap of hardship and pain. Those words describe exactly what took place and subsequently ended in what I call today as an abusive cult.
Still, I look at the bigger picture which I believe is all God’s work in bringing me to where I am today. I was backslidden for the best part of 10 years. It was after I spent 3 months looking after my very sick Mum that I decided to return, albeit even that was God’s doing again… I felt really low and was asking God for direction, as I often did but never expected Him to answer when I had an irresistible urge to read some scripture again. Matthew 6:33 popped up and I took it as an answer. On return to the UK I did what I thought was just that, I went seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness (as I understood it them days… haha, yes, I thought, going to the Sunday church gathering was where I must go to get that) so I joined an institutional church locally and spent about 4 years in that. It was only once I started growing disillusioned, feeling out of place, that I wasn’t in the right place and didn’t feel comfortable anymore, that God manage to speak probably one of the most profound moments of my journey. I was driving home from a Sunday meeting and I felt God say to me "I want you to come away because I want to show you something."
That was the real beginning of this journey, learning to live in his love, letting go of my own desire for things to always go how I feel they should. Leaning into a relationship that is unfolding that I now know is God himself taking care of my days and changing me, transforming me, making me a new person and waking up to that is simply amazing. There is no language that I can really use that adequately describes His love that he has for each of us truly amazing.
I wonder sometimes was all that beginning part, the abuse, the whole beginning chapter possibly necessary to get me to where I am today. If it had been been lovely and going really well would I have been walking today in a ever growing deeper and personal relationship with my Papa. Every time I do think about it I have to say, no I don’t think so…
The final quote that I really enjoyed is this…
As you learn to follow Jesus and live in the reality of the new creation, you’ll begin to discern where the signal of human heart is stronger than the noise and static of human engineering.
I love that “human engineering” that’s cool but not so cool…cool language but reality of that practise ain’t so cool…
There is if you think about it and nasty smell to something that’s humanly engineered when it comes to the body of Christ. I’m so glad to just let go and let Jesus…whilst I strive towards the goal…the latter is new, as wasn’t doing much other than couch potatoing it… that in it self shows me there’s change and life comin’
“The idea that any one congregation can fully express the life of Jesus in a community is laughable. It takes us all, loving one another beyond the boundaries of any one group and finding a way to share his life and wisdom together. The cross-pollination of people connecting from different backgrounds and linked to different networks of people can fulfill the promise that the church will reflect the multifaceted nature of God and a unity that man cannot create.”
Why haven’t we figured this out? There seems to be competition between churches or condemnation or judgment of other bodies. We are so, so far from the unity that Jesus had desired for his people. We catch it in small glimpses in small settings. And therein lies beauty and promise.