Friends, and Friends of Friends (continued)

I appreciate the way the Internet allows people to interact with things I write. Others add some great observations to this process. I’ve received some emails since the release of the new BodyLife and its lead article about Friends and Friends of Friends. It’s interesting that these both focused on fear and control as the reason we won’t trust Jesus to connect us the way he always desired to do.

This came from a long-time friend that has continued to look in a number of places to find some form of effective church life in a number of institutions:

I don’t know where to begin….was so impressed by what you had to say in the new newsletter. I have struggled with this issue for years and like you it was in front of us the whole time. Can’t tell you what a release I felt (and my wife as well). It is so hard to move away from the institution and the hold it can have on you. I recently watched a documentary on the Catholic Church in its attempts to deal with the sexuality of both male and female clergy, and the conclusion was simply that it was all done and justified on the basis of control, no matter what and that it will never change. It almost appears that the institution will do anything to keep people from fellowship with Jesus and with one another because of its fear of losing control even though lives will be destroyed. I can’t thank you enough for taking such a courageous stand.

And this came from a newer friend who has only recently left the institutional he served in for years. He was recently invited back to attend a ‘Defending the Faith’ class so he would know better how to “evangelize” young believers.

Why can’t we love people well enough that we just share our life with them in relationship instead of treating them as a project for coercion? You know why? It is because of fear. We are afraid we won’t know what to say. We are afraid that our not having an answer to their question will render them to eternal damnation. We are afraid we will say something wrong which make them walk away from Christ and they won’t ever pass that way again. We are afraid that a lot of their salvation is based on what I do.

But perfect love cast out all fear. If it really was about loving the people that Father puts in front of us each day, there is no fear of what to say, or what the results will be. I feel for those coercion projects that will soon be the victims of a new group of graduates from the “Defending the Faith” class. But then Father can make good of that too.

it’s amazing what Father uses. It really is! I’m grateful for how many times he’s used my immature ramblings to touch someone’s life and draw them closer to him. But like many of you, I’d much prefer Jesus flow out of my life because of how I’m responding to him, not in spite of it.

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6 Comments
  1. glen tschirgi September 25, 2007 at 4:29 am

    I can sure identify with that “Defender of the Faith.” There is much of this thinking in current ‘youth ministry’ in evangelical circles that i have been involved with over the years. Program after program to get students to have quiet times every day, to pray, to invite their friends to the the youth group meetings. But so little about waiting for Jesus’ voice. I think another fear in all of this is the very secret but very real fear that Father, Son and Spirit are not real. In our deepest heart we don’t really believe that he can or will do anything to change us or others without our effort. I can’t even imagine what a youth group would look like without the meetings and group control. As Wayne mentioned about his own efforts, it is sobering to think that maybe the things *we* “accomplish” in youth groups is Father working in spite of us and not because of us. How different it would be if we applied this same Friends and Friends of Friends to youth ministry and let Father knit together relationships without artificial groupings, external pressures, emotional manipulation etc….

  2. kent September 25, 2007 at 5:05 am

    I heard a dear brother once say that we adults add complexities on top of complexities when it comes to life, when Jesus seems to always be saying we must become as children to enter the kingdom of heaven. We’ve made following Jesus and understanding how the world is set up to work such a difficult thing to do.

    The world only knows power, control, manipulation and force and I just think the world’s religious system are a part of it …….and fear is usually what is used to implement it. Jesus just didn’t use these things. It seems to me he went so out of his way to show us and tell us that freedom is only found in the exact opposite of these things. He embodied it.

  3. glen tschirgi September 25, 2007 at 7:29 am

    I can sure identify with that “Defender of the Faith.” There is much of this thinking in current ‘youth ministry’ in evangelical circles that i have been involved with over the years. Program after program to get students to have quiet times every day, to pray, to invite their friends to the the youth group meetings. But so little about waiting for Jesus’ voice. I think another fear in all of this is the very secret but very real fear that Father, Son and Spirit are not real. In our deepest heart we don’t really believe that he can or will do anything to change us or others without our effort. I can’t even imagine what a youth group would look like without the meetings and group control. As Wayne mentioned about his own efforts, it is sobering to think that maybe the things *we* “accomplish” in youth groups is Father working in spite of us and not because of us. How different it would be if we applied this same Friends and Friends of Friends to youth ministry and let Father knit together relationships without artificial groupings, external pressures, emotional manipulation etc….

  4. kent September 25, 2007 at 8:05 am

    I heard a dear brother once say that we adults add complexities on top of complexities when it comes to life, when Jesus seems to always be saying we must become as children to enter the kingdom of heaven. We’ve made following Jesus and understanding how the world is set up to work such a difficult thing to do.

    The world only knows power, control, manipulation and force and I just think the world’s religious system are a part of it …….and fear is usually what is used to implement it. Jesus just didn’t use these things. It seems to me he went so out of his way to show us and tell us that freedom is only found in the exact opposite of these things. He embodied it.

  5. David Grant October 2, 2007 at 7:24 pm

    I have a 27 year old niece that grew up in the church and went to one of the “best” youth groups in her city. She now tells me that she only found real friends when she left the group. Sadly, she connects the unfriendly youth group to her understanding of God. She is currently traveling through South America working as a volunteer nurse. When she’s not travelling she works on an obstetrics ward that has a lot of expectant mothers who are hooked on drugs. She cares more than most and truly does something about it. Her heart is full of love for others but her memories of how God was presented truly turn her off and she can’t make any sense of connecting to Him.

  6. David Grant October 2, 2007 at 10:24 pm

    I have a 27 year old niece that grew up in the church and went to one of the “best” youth groups in her city. She now tells me that she only found real friends when she left the group. Sadly, she connects the unfriendly youth group to her understanding of God. She is currently traveling through South America working as a volunteer nurse. When she’s not travelling she works on an obstetrics ward that has a lot of expectant mothers who are hooked on drugs. She cares more than most and truly does something about it. Her heart is full of love for others but her memories of how God was presented truly turn her off and she can’t make any sense of connecting to Him.

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