Wednesday, March 12, 2008

missionary impossible

here's an email from a friend. i met her and some folks from their church a few years ago at a conference on the emerging church movement. they were deeply involved in their church, a very cool place doing really fun things. but obviously it wasn't so good after a while. here's part of her email to me. i can tell she's sad sad sad.

... we're still finding our way, taking a break, trying to not try too hard. Overall life is good. Sometimes I miss all of the good stuff that was, but it's not just that we left that community, but that the community wasn't what it was and had instead become something Big, with an Agenda — so by the time I left, there was no there there. It kinda broke my heart to try and stay, so I packed it in. Maybe some day it will all make sense again.
I do marvel that so many of us live with the knowledge of this great and glorious story — that God so loved the world that He bothered to put on skin and walk around and show how a life lived in full knowledge of and connection with Love looks like and works — and yet the best we seem to do with that knowledge is put up buildings and fill them with self-congratulatory, self-referencing, self-financing "organizations." I really resonate with that Homer Simpson line (from the episode "Missionary Impossible") where he says something like "I sure don't know much about God, but we sure built a nice cage for him."
I hope that someday I will find a community of people who will encourage me to be brave enough to love as recklessly as Jesus did — a group of people who will remind me to give away freely, knowing that I am plugged into the Source of everything. You keep up the good fight in Texas, and I'll keep my eyes peeled for signs of life here.

i am tired of the institutional church. i hope journey ifc never becomes an institutional church. in fact, i'm determined it won't.
how can you keep that from happening? stay real. do constant self-examination, tell the truth to yourself and one another, question everything that smells remotely like the culture, have faith, have no plan except love, and stay humble. follow jesus. everything the church uses, is for loving god and loving people. get rid of stuff. let go of what you don't need and hold tight to what you know god's telling you.
and even then, don't ever be afraid to say to god, We might not know what we're doing at all - feel free to screw things up if it'll keep us on track for you and your kingdom.
yeah, all that scares me. but that's good. those scared parts of me need to die anyway, and be resurrected into courage and obedience.


Anonymous said...

Recently I learned the difference between Theocentric and Anthropocentric. Theocentric is placing God as the focal point in thoughts, interests and feelings ( Or, in other words, What does God want me to do in this situation....or,. How is God using me to reach others...or, I want God to move through me to do His work.

Anthropocentric is viewing and interpretating everything in terms of human experience and values (Websters again). What I've learned and it makes sense to me, for the church-going Christian who thinks anthropocentrically is that God will always take care of me no matter what I do and in all situations. Even though that is very true, the danger or kicker is that for the anthropocentric person, he or she is determing the parameters in which God will care for them. Sometimes God does not leave us “comfortable” in his care for us.

I want to be Theocentric and be cautious of not labeling what something is and what something isn't based upon an assumption of how is appears. Unconsciously, we all label what is good and what is bad. Maybe that's okay. Albeit, the hard thing to do is to step out of “defined terms” and think Theocentrically. Thanks for your thought-provoking post.~

Rick Diamond said...

so much of organized religion is anthropocentric rather than theocentric - at least, that's my experience - and i'm glad for these terms to help think that through and discuss it with others.

yep yep yep. thanks

Melinda Hasting said...

Hey Rick- I posted a lengthy comment about this last week. Did you get it, by any chance?


Melinda Hasting said...

I don't think it's possible to be Theocentric and avoid the risk of playing God. One may call himself "theocentric" based on his own interpretation of scripture and then use those interpretations as a tool to control others. (e.g., anti-homosexual dogma, the prosperity movement, the "baptism of the holy spirit")

The experiential approach, or "anthropocentric" theory, is fraught with elusive moral relativity (though I do believe this country could use a dose of moral relativity right now).

The hybrid of these theories could be: One seeks God through the sources available (text, people, nature, the arts, and tribulation) and tests her experience with those sources.

If the primary impetus for seeking God is to achieve a sense of peace, wholeness, acceptance and worthwhile existence, then the likely manifestation of what's true and "of God" is often the application of a theory to determine whether it creates a change in thought patterns and thus, behavior.