Not to be Trifled With

I was planning on blogging about Deuteronomy tonight. I had all these clever things to say about the weird parts where they mention testicle injuries.

And then, I got this phone call. It was the latest development in this ongoing drama. A whole bunch of people I know are in the middle of variations on this same theme. The theme is “Pastor messes up, church is in a mess.”

None of these people know each other. And I only know one person in each of these cases. I don’t know the pastors or anybody else at the church. Each of these “unconnected” events is strikingly similar. It’s in fact, pretty weird that they are all occurring simultanously.

I concocted lots of plausible explanations for why these might be occuring at the same time. But it occurred to me, the fact that they are simultanous, that’s not really the issue. Because the truth is, this sort of thing happens all the time. There are probably dozens, hundreds, thousands of similar dramas playing out that I’m totally unaware of.

The more relevant question is, “Why am I aware of these all going on at the same time.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but even better more important “Why has God drawn my attention to these things, all going on at the same time?”

It is quite conceivable that these events might have happened and I wouldn’t have known of them. The people who I know who are directly involved, they could just as easily have not shared these stories with me.

Again, there are all sorts of potential reasons why. But none of them have heard me talk about one and said, “Wow, I’m going through something just like that…” Each one has told me quite unbeknownst to the others.

I don’t think that I have any great wisdom to share with any of these people. They are mature and much better prepared to understand these situations than I am, as I am not at ground zero of any of them. What this leads me to, is the possibility that God is drawing my attention to all these things so that I might learn something.

I’m not, by the way, suggesting that all these things happened just to teach me some sort-of life lesson. I’m suggesting that once they occurred, God used them for His Glory, as he uses all things. God is awesome that way. And one little-itty bitty tiny piece of God’s Glory is helping me to be a little less of a knucklehead. Because if I’m less of a knucklehead, this glorifies God.

So I prayed over the issue. It’s probably too early for me to be sure of exactly what God wants me to learn out of all this. But I have a thought, a stirring, a little voice, a suspicion.

When I began to puzzle it out, it seemed much more important to share than the funny part of Deuteronomy where scripture says if a women jumps in the middle of a fight between her husband and another man, and where if the woman grabs his testicles, she deserves to have it chopped off.

What occurs to me is that when we engage in ministry, we are engaged in something not only sacred but also primal. A fundamental force in the universe. We should go to God as our father, as our dad, in authenticity and real love.

But this, it’s not something to be trifled with. It’s not something to be taken casually.

I worship in jeans and t-shirts, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I love the people I get to do ministry with deeply, and I’m proud of that.

But I’m feeling convicted tonight, because some times I treat it like a game. Sometimes it’s hang out time. Sometimes God’s not in the front seat.

God should be in the front seat, all the time. How absurd that I could sit in a church, and be part of planning things, and treat Him like an abstraction, like a concept, like an object.

This doesn’t happen all the time. I’m blessed with good leaders at church, and people in ministry with me who are generally more spiritually mature than me. But I’m responsible for my own choices, and only I know the content of my heart. Sometimes it’s not what it should be.

God is the creator of the universe. I guess because we are broken we tend to trivilize that. This is maybe the root of all these stories that are distantly connected to me. This is the root of the fall from Eden. And it is the root, I’m learning, of something I do sometimes, too.

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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.

3 thoughts on “Not to be Trifled With”

  1. You wrote “…scripture says if a women jumps in the middle of a fight between her husband and another man, and where if the woman grabs his testicles, she deserves to have it chopped off…”

    You should try reading your posts out loud to avoid saying some of the things you do, which are easily misunderstood. What is the “it” that she deserves to have chopped off? Is it the man’s balls? or his love stick? or what? Of course, I know the answer, it’s her hand, but the way you wrote it, it could be anything, maybe even her head (which I think might be a better punishment than cutting off her hand).

    The other thing I wanted to say about this post is, altho many of your posts have been obscure or meaningless to me (that is, not that they were meaningless to you; I just couldn’t figure them out), this post really takes the cake! What in the Sam Hill are you talking about? What is this “ongoing drama”? Has some pastor in your church been caught with his pants down or with his family jewels in someone else’s pocket? It sounds like you’re talking around something, so why talk about it at all? Or is it something I could only understand if I were there worshipping with you guys in my pajamas and slippers? (I sometimes do that.)

    As often, your posts leave me hanging. (But I don’t really mind, as long as I can listen to my favorite songs on an ipod while I’m being exposed.)

    Perhaps the air on the eastern seaboard is just different than here on the west coast. Or maybe I’ve just read a little too much Greek today.

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  2. You are quite right about the ambiguous, “It”. Thanks for clarifying that.

    The specifcs of these events I am witness to, they aren’t particularly important. All of us know of large-scale and small scale pastoral abuses of power. That’s the important part of what I was writing about.

    And in case this was unclear:
    None of this has to do with my home church.

    Thanks for baring with posts you find obscure and meaningless. I know that I consistently benefit from your insight.

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  3. I really am a meshuggi, but I am still mystified in spite of your kind response. Glad that whatever it is you all are talking about is nothing to do with your “home” church, but on the other hand, who is safe from the effects of carnal explosions in the Church wherever they are?

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