Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What is wrong?

John ch.3 describes two kinds of people. Those who live in darkness because they don't want their deeds exposed, and those who come into the light to show that they are God's people. Hence we use the phrase "in the light". Often this phrase denotes a kind of openness that can be very freeing but requires great risk and often results in humiliation.

Here's what happens:

We make a contract with the state of affairs. This is: narrowing the path excludes almost everyone. Some of whom aren't really that bad. A lot of people will feel uncomfortable, at least at first. Uncomfortable = smaller churches. Smaller churches = appearance of failure. So, we know that the narrow path is where we ought to be headed, but we make a pact with reality. "I'll just do what works". Everyone retreats a little bit. Church is a little less threatening; and if it is threatening, it's the kind of "intellectual threat" that doesn't require you to talk about yourself, just your beliefs. Slowly you give up on drawing people into the light, and accept the darkness.

Why? Because it's not your job. Your job is to provide a service. People join your church, and donate to it, and pay your salary because they want a service. In most cases you have no other reason to be in the community you're in, except to provide that service. Maybe you move your family to a new city and church, because it's a better job. They don't bring you in to shepherd God's people. They bring you in to do a job. Your responsibility is not to draw people into the light, closer to God; it's to grow the church. Or ... to teach. Or ... to be "successful". The darkness closes in.

Because indoctrination is easier than transformation. Because small talk is safer than friendship. Because systematic theology is more interesting than "Love God with all your mind, heart, soul, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself."

You betray the ones you claim to be helping. Because it's your job. So, the question is, who do you work for?

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