Flag on the play, offensive, 5 yard penalty, repeat first down.
I've been walking the path of a believer for a while now. When I first started applying Christ to my life, I was running before I could walk. I'd blast my Christian death metal on my busted Walkman that had a rubber band holding the mix tape in the machine. I'd wear bright orange shirts that said things like " there is a God, and its not you" as I stood in front of the fortune tellers booth at the Renaissance fair.
I've been in churches so big that it would take you an hour to find a parking lot or a seat I've been in churches that only had 4 people left in them. I've seen churches with only older people, with set ways and traditions. I've seen churches of only young people with a lack of temperance or maturity. I've seen pastors sin and shrug it off while others have sinned and stepped down. I'e seen spiritual people who seem a little crazy and I've seen insane people pretend to be spiritual. I've seen men who swear like truckers with giant holes in their ears show up faithfully and serve with a gentleness and compassion. I've seen young men, sharp dressed in neatly pressed slacks who say please and thank you sit in service one day, and then sleep with several girls the rest of the week.
I've seen young people who were dedicated to each other kiss each other at church and I've seen other "couples" demonized for even daring to glance at one another.
There are those who chase down pastors to rub elbows to try and feel holy and closer to God I guess. There are those who know that these men are just men who struggle and fail just like the rest of us.
I've seen people encourage positive changes in another persons life. I've seen people that demand changes in lives that they don't have the authority to demand.... and I've seem them with hold grace, mercy and compassion until they get submission.
Flag on the play, Unnecessary roughness, the defense will get the ball, first down.
In time my understandings and studies have drawn me deeper and challenged commonly held perspectives. Over the years I had to let go of parts of my own traditions that were in clear conflict with scriptures. I "progressed" into a movement that touts a deeper understanding, a higher caliber of study, and a more spiritual conceptualism.
I doubt that they realize how often they hold other brothers and sisters, other believers, in contempt or regard them with such condescension.
There are some things that stick with me lately.
David being mocked by a man for the loss of his crown to his son. The humility that he showed by saying, yes, maybe what this fool says is the truth of God.
When I look at my church, I ask myself "who amongst these men are like david, and who amongst these men are more like the one who mocks him?"
David showed a sense of grace in that moment. The fool showed an arrogant contempt and fleshly supremacy.
Another thing that sticks with me lately is the passage about the shepheards of Israel and the coming judgement that is soon to be upon them. They lead the sons of israel upon the rocky mountainous path, and they did not give them peace.
Where are the boundary lines between a spiritual adviser, and being a spiritual abuser? What constitutes a cult, apart from a denomination? I hear of places that are often taken in by some charismatic shmuck. Remember when the end of the world was supposed to happen this month two or three years ago because some dingus with a glint in his eye thought he was given some special key or road map?
I've seen so many people walking around prophesying doom.
And I remember that the words of my Savior were to love one another, forgive one another, be gracious and merciful to one another, to serve one another, to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit the imprisoned and look after the orphan and the widow...
... and yet we pack the houses with people that want to talk about star charts, circumcision, number values, how to tie fringes, lineages, tithes, the precise details of a sacrifice...
and day in and day out, I would deem that they are unchanged by service.
It's like collecting sports cards with all the statistics and various players and teams and positions.... but never playing the game ourselves, even though we're on the team, and our coach has called the play, given us the ball and told us to run it in.
Ironically, in our pursuit for deeper understanding I feel the we have lost the deepest meanings. " You tithe mint and dill, which is good, but you have forgotten the weightier matters of the torah, Justice, mercy... "
Sure each tithe could have a significant symbolism behind it, and be used for a specific purpose that tells us something about a culture, and a people and we could argue for a thousand hours about how completely and utterly paramount that is... and yes, it has its place...
but does it change lives? Can the doctrine we believe be absolutely right, but we're all completely wrong? Can we speak in the tongues of angels with all our wisdom and have it not amount to a single thing other than an obnoxious clatter without the real love part?
I'm pretty sure that somewhere along the way we started throwing out things that we used to believe, and something in one of those boxes we still needed.
Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them.
1 cor 13
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
Flag on the play, Offsides, repeat first down.
We've got to reset our formation.
Because anyone we've got is too many to lose.