I Look Like a Loner
I wander the country alone with my wife (whom some assume I must have taken hostage). I know it's odd. I look like a loner, a total recluse.
From the outside looking in, the assumption is understandable. It could not be further from the truth.
Why It Looks This Way
The shape of my life today is actually a result of my commitment to community, not a desire to escape it. I had three choices.
- I could stay in church and live with the tension. I did this for a long time. It finally became impossible.
- I could withdraw from church and shut up. This was tempting. It fit my middle-child peacemaker profile. It would have been safe. But it left me alone.
- I could withdraw from church and speak openly about my journey. This created tension with my old friends, which makes me sad. But I am excited about new connections.
My theology, which I spell out in Hard Reset, raised some eyebrows. My decision to live by Jesus’ seven core teachings (The Seven Habits of Wholeness) was not controversial at all. Questioning the church, as I do in the Ecclesia Podcast series, has been like hitting a beehive with a baseball bat.
It's understandable. To question the church is to pull the rug out from under our own two feet. We are steeped in centuries of viewing ourselves through the lens of church. Taking off our church glasses is bewildering. It’s no wonder that most people wind up altering the prescription and putting the glasses back on. Things may still be fuzzy but at least the world stops spinning.
For years, I did my best to wear church glasses, constantly fiddling with the prescription. When I found this to be impossible and removed them, I despaired that I had lost my faith. When I began to rediscover the ground beneath my feet, I tried to “keep one foot on each side of the creek,” as a friend put it. I tried to hold onto the church AND take a new way forward.
At this point, Jesus’ words about putting new wine into an old wineskin became inescapable. The “old wineskin” Jesus spoke of was the religion of his day. The new wine was the Kingdom of God.
Church is an “old wineskin.” The Kingdom of God doesn’t fit any better into church than it fit into Pharisaic Judaism. They are both religious systems and there are striking similarities between the two.
My Way Forward
What is needed is not a new version of the old wineskin (“church”), but a return to the teachings of Jesus about the Kingdom of God. This is not a refined vintage of an old wine. It is new wine that bursts the old wineskin. It makes a mess, but what a glorious mess it is! Since when was following Jesus ever tidy?
My Invitation to You
If you’d like to participate in the glorious mess, I would love to be your friend. I invite you to the Ecclesia Facebook group. There, we seek to encourage each other in following Jesus. The great commandments are our only rules.
- Love God.
- Love one another.
Hope to meet you soon!