Over the history of Christianity, no matter what group found fresh life in Christ and set out on a new course, they all ended up investing it back into an institutional system to try to protect and sustain it. Why do you think we tend to trust our abilities to organize the life of the church into old creation systems, rather than entrust its future to the Spirit and his work among God’s people?
ADDICTION. The more I dig, the more I discover addicts that have no other option than the only drug they’ve ever known. I know… I used to be one. I still can smell that which once chained me. I still love those still chained.
Then we would have to give God the credit.
I’m thinking of the names of two denominations for example: Lutheran, named after Martin Luther, and Calvinism, named after John Calvin. Two in-the-flesh giants of the faith who must have got it right because we are still following their tenets hundreds of years later. But others argue that the current state of certain denominations would make their founders roll in their graves. Still they survive.
In my opinion, until someone knows Jesus as their personal Savior, they will always create and/or follow institutional methods to attempt to satisfy relational ones.
I have guesses. I don’t know for sure. I know for myself, the freedom feels so unsafe. How can I, the untrained know if I am doing things right? Hearing the Holy Spirit correctly?
My thoughts go back to the slaves freed from Egypt. And then they long for the bad old days.
Dawna in Sacramento
Hi Dawna- Your comments immediately brought back an experience that God used to teach me a Really Important Lesson. We were building a 2 story barn. Once the ceiling for the 1st level was up, we were building the rafters on it. i was Very aware of the edge and the possibility of a fall, so stayed well away from it. Once the rafters started to go up tho, my attitude totally changed and I was hanging off of them, nailing things into that very edge which an hour before looked so Dangerous. As I pondered the change in my sense of security, God revealed something to me- You can be Free, or you can be Safe. Can’t be both. That lesson has been brought back to me many times in the 25 years since. We see the truth of it played out so many times in our lives, in our culture… Freedom is scary, but I’ll take it over temporary illusional security any day. Reminds me of what the Beavers tell the Pevensie children when discussing their first meeting with Aslan; “then He isn’t safe?” Lucy asks. “Safe- Don’t you hear? Who said anything about safe? Course He isn’t safe. But He’s Good…”
Yes! I am learning this. It makes so much sense. Like I said in another comment, it takes courage to do this.
Dawna in Sacramento Ca
What is training, except growing to discern what leads to life and what leads to death. We’re not going to get everything right, and we’re often going to think right or wring is based on what’s best for me. I find three things very helpful in making decisions–what I think the Spirit is saying, what Scripture would seem to inform me in my decision, and the input of other brothers and sisters whose Jesus journey I can appreciate. But we can even get it wrong from all that, which is why the Spirit is faithful to show us when we’ve found his leading, or make us restless if we haven’t so we seek other options. Circumstances play a key role in determining of the choices I’m making are leading to life nor death.
It’s a great journey, learning to listen and follow. None of us get it right all the time. We are just learning and hopefully making mistakes in smaller things as we grow, rather than in big stuff that brings harm to others if we’re wrong…
Why do we trust human systems? For me the answer is that is all I knew. I trusted in Jesus and went to church. When I wasn’t comfortable in a certain flavor of church I tried a different flavor. After 40 years of trying multiple flavors I finally realized there was a system problem with institutional church. A couple years ago I met a new believer in his twenties (I think) who had been a Christian for only 1 and a half years and he told me he didn’t find what he called standard church helpful. So he started a meet up group called social church for Christians and seekers in their twenties and thirties. They meet for Bible discussions, meals, and social and charitable events. They don’t do the same thing every time they meet or always meet at the same times and places. Others have stepped up to help with planning. I think one of the desires is that some of those who attend will make lifelong spiritual friendships as a result of this group. He says that the church is people, imagine that. What I found encouraging is that he is on the path of understanding what church is after being a believer only 1 and a half years as opposed to my 40 years it took to learn we have a system problem with church. Perhaps the internet is changing things, making it easier for us to know we are not alone with the things that we struggle with. Perhaps this discussion, available to anyone to read in the free world who has internet, will be an encouragement to those who are hungry for the simplicity and purity of life in Christ as it is found in the scriptures, without all of the man made religion.
This is great! I am going to write the three things in my journal.
I am starting to get more comfortable about wildness of it.
I don’t know if this is the right phrase - but using “if it brings harm to others” as a yard stick.
Dawna in Sacramento Ca
In short I think we get comfortable with what we know and what we think we can control. We stop the exploring greater depths of God himself and where He wants to take us. Do the rules and set layout of an organisation cause that? I’d say yes, for a while anyway, until, as many of us have felt, thankfully, God enables that longing for a possibility that there is something more, something more engaging and exciting over the horizon or on the other side.
I’m currently reading a book by Richard P. Hansen Lost Paradox where I feel this answer has been influenced slightly as its fresh in on my thoughts. Here’s what it says in the second chapter and subtitle “An Invitation to Settled Explorers.”
“After the dangers of the trail, creating a settlement was a welcome change. The men still hunted and fished, of course, and the women and children often entered the forest to pick berries or look for mushrooms. But fewer trips into the really wild lands where required; everything needful was now close at hand.”
he goes on a little later to say that they often sat around in the evenings speculating about the wilderness they had yet to explore but seldom did anything come of it. Not until the stream dried up and threw them out of their comfort zone.
When we first come to Christ everything is fresh, there’s an excitement and defiantly there is a sense of freedom. As we settle we put down roots and stop exploring, we shrink God down and put Him into a box probably as it is enough to satisfy our needs. We stop allowing the Spirit to really move. We build a program and set some boundary rules. Could it be that God allows us to park there as we do still have a free will to do our own thing apart from God’s will?
I feel The answer is we need to be awake to the guiding of the Spirit and in so doing adventure thrives, life still has it’s ups and downs but the overlying cloud by day and fire by night is God loves us. It’s Him that leads us by the hand to all truth. John 16:12-13 The Message
Ian in Colnbrook. Berkshire UK
Dawna, “how can I, the untrained know if I am doing things right?” Keep in mind it is the trained who have given us thousands of denominations. Which one should I follow to know that I am doing things right? John the apostle on the other hand told us we have an anointing from God who teaches us about all things and we don’t need anyone to teach us (1 John 2:27).
I remember when I was attending a Christian college and as I was walking back to my dorm I was overwhelmed by sadness and despair. Basically every question about God was being answered and tied up in the Calvinist slant of the school. There was no mystery, no need to really trust God with one’s questions because they had the answers. They were very antagonistic towards and expressions of doubt. So much so that they would suggest one may not be a Christian since they never had doubts. It was the scariest feeling because I started to think I had lost my salvation even though this isn’t a group that believes in a loss of salvation. We were put on this earth to explore, live, experience things. People need for everyone to have a label and box. They do not know how to have a relationship with those not in a box because they have been “warned against them.” If you believe the Father is just waiting to strike you, then you better have rules to try and protect yourself. No one wants to explore a Father that is angry, crazy and would prefer to destroy human beings. The belief system that I am coming from is, that the Father has picked some for destruction because He needs those people to unleash his wrath on. You live in a constant state of trying to protect yourself. Rules allow you to hide. You don’t ask questions. If your following the rules it’s kind of a defense and self preservation. “See God I’m following the rules so don’t destroy me because I’m doing this stuff for you.” Calvinism were the rules I was taught by and this doctrine attempts to put God on such a high place yet brings the result of making God a monster. I don’t know how people don’t see the problems.
Really enjoyed your reply Gadiela, it’s so interesting for me to see the varying angles of how our past history in humans systems have place beliefs and more importantly God in their own little boxes with the labels ;).
I have often heard Calvinism mentioned but never really known much about it or read much into it (Lucky me). Today I did a search after reading your reply and I have to ask myself as I notice more and more that so many people have been lead astray by differing ideas that all think they are right. From there they seem to build the rules and from that a move away from the truth. What really struck me was what you said here,
They were very antagonistic towards and expressions of doubt. So much so that they would suggest one may not be a Christian since they never had doubts.
I have to sit back here and ponder how Father views this idea, as I thought I see Father lean down from his chair, gather a scared child in his arms and bring her up onto His knee. Bounce her once and draw her in for a mighty hug, whilst whispering in her ear with a big smile on His face, "it’s all taken care of, just relax and enjoy what I’m doing here."
That little child seems to noticeably relax, turn and start laughing as they look out form where they are sitting.
This is the view I have these days of God, even when we are wrong, off track, sacred and not doing it right, he seems to do more and more what I said above. The rules are pretty much out the window sort of. He is the rule and so long as He is holding our hand we’ll be fine. So far from “The Monster” that was previously taught to me.
In many ways, working in an institution is easier. I can hide my true feelings, don’t have to work on relationships, get recognition of my service. When truly living out our relationships truth, honesty, concern for others opens us up, but too often afraid to go there. Sometimes painful to show the true “me”.
One of the things that comes to me out of all of this, is that we trust human systems because we don’t know what it is yet to trust God. Systems is about still trusting ourselves and our ingenuity, or someone else’s. We hope the right formulation will guarantee the outcome we hope for. But for 2000 years our systems have always failed. It’s not that they can’t be good for awhile…, they can! But at some point they take on a life of their own and demand to be served for their own survival, rather than continue to flow in the work God is doing.
Wayne in Thousand Oaks
I don’t think anyone intends to set up institutions that reflect old creation systems. I think we all long for fellowships that are new creation gatherings. In any kind of formalization of gatherings, we tend to need certain organizational structures. Even when we try to set up fellowships based on Acts, with believers sharing all things in common, we get caught up in the system. And when things work well, the system grows and bureaucracy tends to grow, too. It seems the more people who are involved, the more opportunity there is for disagreement over Holy Spirit direction. We humans seem to mess things up. It’s another reason why I know I need a savior!
Vam… thank you for sharing that experience in your walk… It is something I need to meditate on.
RonL… I agree with your line about giving God the credit.
To trust and to know that it is his place, his plan, and his purpose, that will bring it to pass… is a scary thought… a letting go of personal acclaim is a difficult part of the process. Trusting in human’s ability to organize the life of the church into old creation systems can be deceivingly trustworthy and redefined to look as though they fit the necessary protocol… However, if it was all it was cracked up to be, what was the need for the new creation? Father must know something we have yet to fully acknowledge.
Look no further than Jesus, who was mocked by the leaders of the day as King of the Jews while hanging on a Cross. How can we aspire to a better standing in the world while still proclaiming His message? We can say ‘I am a Christian’ all we want, but if our life doesn’t reflect our words, it is nothing more than hypocrisy.
I was watching an old episode of ‘Barney Miller’ last night. During the episode, one of the characters stated, ‘I believe there’s a God. I ain’t crazy about the way he does things…’ In my most honest moments, looking at the world for how it truly is, and not how I would like it to be, I would agree as well.