With all of the transition in my life and the life of my family, it’s been hard to “fit in” my disciplines. Or lack of them. Yes, I know that they are important pieces for growth and life, but they get choked out by the “Tyranny of the Urgent“. My bad choices. I can feel the draw. I know what I need to do. I guess sometimes I’m like Paul in Romans 7.
For my weaknesses (which are many), I need to live in the context of authentic community in order to keep myself from slipping into works or just sleepy Christianity. I don’t have the discipline built in. And when I’m pursuing Truth, I’m slapped in the face by the reality of where I live in Truth. I’m doing, but not necessarily living sometimes. Let me explain:
As I’ve been reading “The Importance of Being Foolish“, I came across a quote of an atheist who trashed Christians because there’s not Christ leaking out of the people. She suggested that if there were, people would be attracted to it. Manning responds to this by writing:
It’s symptomatic that, despite the church having been around for two thousand years, the mass of people still pass Christianity by. Why? Because the visible presence of Jesus Christ is rarely present in Christians as a whole. We will never move people to Jesus Christ and the Gospel merely by making speeches about them. Edward Schillebeeckx is blunt: ‘People, to put it bluntly, have had their bellyful of our sermonizing. They want a source of strength in their lives. We can only recommend this strength by making it actively present in our own lives.’ Contact with Christians should be an experience that proves to people that the Gospel is a power that transforms the whole of life. Instead, our presence in the world is often marked by rank insincerity, a dilution of grace, and failure to act on His Word. (p. 48-49)
Obviously this causes me to pause and ask these questions about my own life. The way I look at our church. I see a quote from Manning that says, “Scripture is not about the transmission of inert ideas. It is a call to love, and love that does not lead to action is not love. Every day of our lives the Word is an imperative to rediscover the truth that, in the words of Hans Kung, ‘the whole secret and center of human existence remains the person of Jesus Christ.'” (p. 50). He adds this huge nugget: “Most failures to act on the Word can be traced to ignorance, inattention, or insufficient esteem for the person of Christ” (p, 52).
As a Free Methodist, my default is to look for lists or “methods” to “get better”. When I read this quote, I am asking myself now, is it ignorance, inattention, or insufficient esteem for the person of Christ? How about you? My supposition would be that as upper-class Americans, the issue isn’t ignorance. Personally, I’d submit that if I had a sufficient esteem for the person of Christ, it could cascade to attention and knowledge and away from ignorance and inattention.
Regardless, this was a good word to hear. For me personally. But I also believe for the church as a whole. If our lives aren’t opened to the capacity for transparency in our lives so Christ can shine through, we’re wasting space. In these moments, my attention needs to be drawn back into the only source that matters.