A Better Way

I got this email the other day and it really touched me. It was from someone I first met traveling in Pennsylvania some time ago, but we have stayed in contact and become good friends over that time.  “As I continue to see the never-ending “church”/”christian” debates, promotions, and controversies scroll down my Facebook news feed, I couldn’t be happier that Father saw fit to connect us over ten years ago! You have truly shown me a better way, a better relationship, a better Father!”

First off, I won’t take credit for all of that, but reading his words made me grateful for every human being God has led across my path in my most transformative days who helped me see a better way into a relationship with Father that increasingly bears the fruit of kindness, generosity, and graciousness to others, even those who don’t share my views of God, his church, or the world. Those people who reflected Jesus’ priorities to me were an incredible encouragement on this journey.  

Secondly, reading his email expressed well for me what I feel reading down my Facebook feed most days.  There is still way too much angst between those who either want to defend congregational attendance as the only measure of someone’s walk with Jesus or passion for real community, and those who want to reject anyone who does as being embedded in legalism or religion.  Congregational meetings are simply collections of Christians who get together regularly for some singing and a Bible lecture. That can be helpful on some people’s journey or it can be destructive depending on the content and the structure behind it.

But the real journey is not about church, no church, going to church, not going to church, accusing others of being too religious or lone wolves.  The real journey is about embraching the reality of Father’s love and letting that spill out of us in ways that brings his redemptive influence into the world, rather than tearing others down.   

By all means do what God gives you to do, but don’t think you have to either convince others to do it too, or justify yourself by tearing down what may be a significant part of somone else’s journey. Here are some excerpts from Romans 14 in THE MESSAGE that always challenge me: 

  • Forget about deciding what’s right for each other. Here’s what you need to be concerned about: that you don’t get in the way of someone else, making life more difficult than it already is. I’m convinced—Jesus convinced me!—that everything as it is in itself is holy. We, of course, by the way we treat it or talk about it, can contaminate it.
  • So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other. Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault.
  • Cultivate your own relationship with God, but don’t impose it on others. 

If we can only see how well-loved we are we would love well in the world, and his kingdom would unfurl before us like a meadow full of wildflowers. And I really do think that’s a better way than getting caught up in the side roads of comparing ourselves to others.   

 

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8 Comments
  1. Bo Anderson January 14, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Wayne,

    This message hits at such an appropriate time that I can’t help but think it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been an us vs. them guy from a very young age. I grew up in a competitive family playing competitive sports. There was us then there was them. You were either of the right side of things or the wrong, angel or demon. 

    After reading your book, Finding Church, my life has been turned upside down by God. It was like a light had been turned on in my life that I didn’t even know was dark. I’m learning to live in the Father’s affection and everyday he breathes new life into me. I can see the work of the Holy Spirit all around me that I never saw before. I love out of an abundance of love not because of the obligation to love. It seems so simple that it seems like I’m cheating.

    My wife is on a different journey and she says that while she likes where I’m going she’s not there yet. I’m learning to be okay with this and the Holy Spirit gives me patience that I’ve never had before. That being said we still attend a local church that is inspiring, but not transformational. She seems to get a lot out of it while I leave upset because so many people seem to be trapped in the system. I want them to see this new creation, to show them there is more to life than Sunday. I’ve set up new competition – creation versus establishment. What you’re saying here makes so much sense. I can see now that there is a journey for everyone. The Holy Spirit will find a way to do its work. I have learned, actually still learning, to trust in Father’s love and timing. 

    Thank you so much for your writings and insights. Keep helping the Holy Spirit to turn on the light.

    Bo Anderson

  2. Bo Anderson January 14, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Wayne,

    This message hits at such an appropriate time that I can’t help but think it’s the work of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been an us vs. them guy from a very young age. I grew up in a competitive family playing competitive sports. There was us then there was them. You were either of the right side of things or the wrong, angel or demon. 

    After reading your book, Finding Church, my life has been turned upside down by God. It was like a light had been turned on in my life that I didn’t even know was dark. I’m learning to live in the Father’s affection and everyday he breathes new life into me. I can see the work of the Holy Spirit all around me that I never saw before. I love out of an abundance of love not because of the obligation to love. It seems so simple that it seems like I’m cheating.

    My wife is on a different journey and she says that while she likes where I’m going she’s not there yet. I’m learning to be okay with this and the Holy Spirit gives me patience that I’ve never had before. That being said we still attend a local church that is inspiring, but not transformational. She seems to get a lot out of it while I leave upset because so many people seem to be trapped in the system. I want them to see this new creation, to show them there is more to life than Sunday. I’ve set up new competition – creation versus establishment. What you’re saying here makes so much sense. I can see now that there is a journey for everyone. The Holy Spirit will find a way to do its work. I have learned, actually still learning, to trust in Father’s love and timing. 

    Thank you so much for your writings and insights. Keep helping the Holy Spirit to turn on the light.

    Bo Anderson

  3. Mike Rea January 16, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Excellent!

    I am reminded of this from Galatians:

    “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

     

  4. Mike Rea January 16, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Excellent!

    I am reminded of this from Galatians:

    “For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love.

     

  5. Joel Brockenberry January 17, 2015 at 9:42 am

    It should be considered that the Devil is in relentless opposition to us, and his main weapons are deception and ideas. I believe there will always be a need to make sure we are not influenced by the culture, which is even harder now than ever, amidst our constant barrage of technology.  Rampant  in our culture is comfort, human rights, the right to not be offended, and a philosophy of individuality. Has any of this leaked in? Who started to use religion as an expletive, especially concerning organizations that preach Christ, and Him crucified? James encourages a pure religion. Paul among others invites us to suffer for the gospel, yet our panties are bunched because we felt judged, or the music didn’t make me weep, or whatever complaint is given. This is not the end of the matter, but it seems as if the world, under the devil’s control says “you guys suck, and should be more like our expections”, and a bunch of people loo around them, stand up in their pews and say, “yeah, this place does suck!”

     

  6. waynejacobsen January 17, 2015 at 10:46 am

    Joel, if you think that’s what’s happening when people conclude that the religious institution they belong to no longer reflects the priorities and character of the Jesus of Scripture, then I’m afraid you’ve missed the point and you’re making some incredibly inaccurate accusations.  The people I know aren’t concerned that the “church” does not look enough like the world, but that it already does with its underlying business model, it’s use of guilt and fear to manipulate behavior, and its distortion of the nature of God.  People haven’t left it because they “felt judged” or because the music wasn’t to their liking, but because they wanted a more vibrant relationship with God and more authentic relationships with other believers than their religious institution would support.  Please don’t judge or condemn what you don’t understand.  People are hungering for more of God, not more of the world.  

  7. Joel Brockenberry January 17, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    It should be considered that the Devil is in relentless opposition to us, and his main weapons are deception and ideas. I believe there will always be a need to make sure we are not influenced by the culture, which is even harder now than ever, amidst our constant barrage of technology.  Rampant  in our culture is comfort, human rights, the right to not be offended, and a philosophy of individuality. Has any of this leaked in? Who started to use religion as an expletive, especially concerning organizations that preach Christ, and Him crucified? James encourages a pure religion. Paul among others invites us to suffer for the gospel, yet our panties are bunched because we felt judged, or the music didn’t make me weep, or whatever complaint is given. This is not the end of the matter, but it seems as if the world, under the devil’s control says “you guys suck, and should be more like our expections”, and a bunch of people loo around them, stand up in their pews and say, “yeah, this place does suck!”

     

  8. waynejacobsen January 17, 2015 at 1:46 pm

    Joel, if you think that’s what’s happening when people conclude that the religious institution they belong to no longer reflects the priorities and character of the Jesus of Scripture, then I’m afraid you’ve missed the point and you’re making some incredibly inaccurate accusations.  The people I know aren’t concerned that the “church” does not look enough like the world, but that it already does with its underlying business model, it’s use of guilt and fear to manipulate behavior, and its distortion of the nature of God.  People haven’t left it because they “felt judged” or because the music wasn’t to their liking, but because they wanted a more vibrant relationship with God and more authentic relationships with other believers than their religious institution would support.  Please don’t judge or condemn what you don’t understand.  People are hungering for more of God, not more of the world.  

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