Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Companionship. What a nice dream. Millions of movies examine the topic in one way or another. Psychologic studies show that people do better with companions, even if the companion is a pet cat or dog.
You'd think Christians could get together and share their lives, their learnings of how to live with God. It rarely happens, from what I've seen; Balkanization works among the saints as well as it works anywhere else.
The person I've told most about my recent story isn't a professing Christian. She is a far better listener than most Christians I've met, and doesn't judge me or question my relationship with God or my sincerity. She does question things she doesn't understand, and it's purely because she just doesn't understand. She's not trying to show me the error of my ways and talk me into some form of correction. Elsewhere, I've met Christians who are all full of exhortation and "encouragement," based on knowing someone for a minute. I believe that you don't have community until you've known and done things together for years. Maybe I'm just slow.
I know I'm not very trusting. How could I be, given the way the world works? God doesn't mind, starting with where I am, and teaching me what I need to understand, not moving on until the understanding is there. I wonder if such a thing is possible in a church.
I'd like to find some Christians who want to understand.
"From the time that I could talk
I was ordered to listen." --Cat Stevens
"When everyone's talking
And no one is listening..." -Crosby, Stills and Nash
Dialogue takes work and concentration. The world is too busy to allow this... probably by design.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Be Prepared for the Truth
Seven years ago I was having lunch with a friend of the time at a Thai restaurant, and the fortune in my cookie said "Be prepared for the truth." Keith and I looked at each other, eyes big, and laughed, as this was exactly what we'd been talking about on the way to the restaurant.
Seven years later, I wonder how anyone can ever be prepared for truth. There are so many layers of honestly misguided help, purely self-serving help, institutional help, and pure lies in the service of economics that even recognizing the nibble of a tiny fish of truth amid the shoals of sharks calls for discrimination of a very high order.
Simplicity is easy to cloak in obfuscation to make it sound more important. From one simple historic fact, Jesus' choice to sacrifice himself for us, has grown a great thicket of industry and guilt. I'm prone to elegant misguidance also.
And yet... God has given us a guide, a comforter. His words yet whisper and echo in my soul, calling me on. If I were to try to describe what He is doing it would come out looking like any other self-indulgent modern-day avoider of real responsibility. Perhaps that's the truth. Probably is, partially, but we have to start somewhere. I believe God can provide guidance.
Change is, however, very hard. With all the voices we face each day, imploring us to go this way or that, buy this product but not another, it's good if we are resistant. This makes it harder to hear truth, and harder yet to respond; how do I know this isn't just another deception? Can I really hear the voice of God?
Still, it happens. Slowly, and with pain and confusion. Our culture teaches respect for the Big Event: blow everything up and start over. This hasn't worked very well. It's more like walking to Peoria, one step at a time. Eventually you'll get there.
This assumes some trusting of the guide. Are we really going to Peoria? Do I want to go there? Well, God has something in mind, but is pretty quiet about it. All he asks of me is not to quit, but I still wonder about where we're going. I guess it's good He doesn't tell me, because if He did I'd turn the journey into a set of rule for producing what I thought God desired.
I think, I feel, that living with God is more a relationship than a prescription. Rules don't work in relationships, and that may be one of the bigger truths for which I've been unprepared. Move over, Mind, the Heart has other ways that need to be included in the process.