Michael Spencer approaches the third chapter of Mere Churchianity the same way. Imagine being a disciple of Jesus and having your world rocked with his unconventional take on the Jewish religion. Been praying all your life? Jesus will teach you how to really pray. Judgemental of that Samaritan woman? Jesus will go to her and strike up a conversation. It's no wonder some of Jesus' disciples responded to him saying, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" and later turned away and left him (John 6:60-66).
I admit I'm young and naive and maybe too idealistic for my own good. Regrettably, I've taken the destruction I've seen in my fellowship of churches and combined that with the media stereotype of the Evangelical Megachurch to paint a broad brush over all of American Christianity (TM). But I look at the Christian blogosphere and twitterverse and I see brothers and sisters doing it; making things happen in the name of Jesus to God's glory. And I realize I'm wrong. I need to "tear up my notes" as Michael puts it.
I'm wrong about my church, too. Last week I may have been overly harsh sharing a single anecdote in a sea of experiences. Not to say the criticism isn't fair, but there's more to the story. You see, there are some things my church gets right. Recognizing Jesus' teachings as uncomfortable is one of them. Growing up religious, when I opened up the Bible with brothers who cared about teaching me what it really says, not just what I've always heard, it blew my mind. It resonated in my heart because I knew this is what I was missing in my relationship with God. Jesus was uncomfortable and that made following him challenging and exciting.
Yesterday I wrote about the Transformational Loop. Each of the seven properties listed are uncomfortable.
- Missionary mentality, where you see your community as a mission field and serve it that way? Uncomfortable!
- Vibrant Leadership where it's not a cult of personality but of inspiring example? Uncomfortable!
- Relational Intensity where you genuinely care about your brothers and sisters' spiritual and physical well-being and "make every effort" to deliberately be involved in one another's lives? Uncomfortable!
- Prayerful dependence where going to God in prayer is natural and asking for help via prayer is common? Uncomfortable!
- Worship that continues beyond Sunday mornings (Romans 12)? Raising your hands in praise? Uncomfortable!
- Community that is intentionally built around the purpose and mission of the Church? Uncomfortable!
- Mission, seeking and saving the lost, being a central part of your life, the focus of your conversations and relationships? Uncomfortable!
Squirming in your chair yet? Well there's nothing comfortable about being a disciple of Jesus. And you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way.
(I also encourage you to visit Bend the Page, Faith Fiction and Friends, and A Simple Country Girl for more discussion of this challenging book)