Feed me, Semore.

My good friend Billy had some really interesting things to say in response to my last post.  Basically, he was observing that there can be a variety of problems when Christians complain that they need to/want to/aren’t being fed.

Billy quite eloquently stated a few ideas that my brain hadn’t quite gotten to in that first post.  After reading his comments, I’ve been able to process the idea a little more, and so have a few more things to say. 

A place where the metaphor of being “fed” is troublesome is in the idea that being fed is a passive activity.  If somebody thinks that all that they have to do, to be a good Christian, is to be fed, this is very much a problem.  If somebody believes that they just have to go to church and intellectualize the things that the pastor said, they would be terribly wrong.

That said, we are told to “be still and know God.”  meditative prayer and worship and even listening to a sermon… these are all wonderful things.  But they are only one half of our lives, taking these things in.  The real question is this: once we have taken them in, what will we do with them?

I didn’t know how to fit into the last post, but I was very much taken with an image from “little shop of horrors?”  Have you ever seen that?  Everybody should.  I love musicals.  The cheesier the better.  Did you know that about me?  Anyway, I digress.

About half way through Little Shop of Horrors, the main character (played, I think, by Rick Moranis in the most recent film version) discovers that the only way to keep his Venus flytrap-ish plant alive is by feeding it blood.  When he does so, the plant begins to speak (and sing) about how it needs more, and more, and more. (Feed me Semore, the plant sings)

It feels so good, to be fed.  It’s easy to just eat and eat and eat.  On a literal level, gluttony is clearly a problem.  But there is a danger of spiritual gluttony as well: when we just eat and eat and eat and never do anything with all the spiritual calories recieved through the feedings.

And sometimes people become like the plant.  They want the very lifeblood of the people in the church, they want precious time, resources, and attention that they don’t really need. 

Having said all this, I guess my last thought on the topic, is that the last danger, the last extreme, in the “the church should feed believers”/ “the church should not feed believers” is this:

I’ve noticed that many folks with established positions within the church are book-smart intellectuals with atleast average levels of formal education.

For people who fit this description (and I suppose I am one) it is very easy to expect a certain level of independence.  When I have a question about The Bible, or when I’m struggling with an issue, I have the ability to work this out.   I know how to research, I’ve got access to resources, I’ve got experience with synthesizing information to formulate a conclusion.

It’s tempting and easy for me to expect others to do the same.  But there gifts and experience and what not may not lie in this direction.  So when I expect people to take responsibility for feeding themselves, it’s important that I take seriously the idea that some people are better than others at doing this.

 

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Feed me, Semore.”

  1. “So when I expect people to take responsibility for feeding themselves, it’s
    important that I take seriously the idea that some people are better than
    others at doing this.”

    I think this is a great insight. You are correct that we must keep in mind and have patience with people that are on all spiritual levels. Sometimes it is easier than others, but that’s life.

    So, although i agree with you on your last point, I think you’re conclusion would be said best if it was 2 fold. Yes, we should remember that not everyone is at our spiritual maturity level, or our intellectual or student level. Therefore, we should ahve patience with them.

    The second part would be this:
    Althought their experience, and I assume you mean either their intelligence level, or academic experience (abundance or lack of)may make them a little more reliant on someone else “feeding them,” we then have a responsibility to “teach” them/ train them how to study the word of God.

    I like how the King James puts it in 2 Tim 2:15:

    Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not
    to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

    It gives me the idea that everyone seeking to be a disciple/ Christ follower, not just a Christian, has to being willing to study the Word of God. Some will require a bit more one on one attention and tutoring, to get to a point where they are capable of doing it then themselves.

    Just some thoughts I had after reading. I think it is a great post, and something we all need to think on.

    Like

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