Okay, one of the driving factors for me to start a new church (read the Jacob’s Well story here) was that I didn’t want to have to choose between the existing options. This is true in nearly every aspect of the life of the church, but the one I am writing about here is the real and active presence of God. On the one-side you have people who see God everywhere. God is responsible for all the good stuff that has happened to them, and for getting them out of all the bad stuff. Strangely, this God wasn’t responsible for the bad stuff in their lives, except for helping good stuff come from it. But this God is often seen behind the bad stuff that happens to other people as a sign of judgment on them. This is deus ex machina, the game playing God. Sorry, can’t do it.
On the other side is a tradition that has rationalized God so thoroughly that God has (as in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) disappeared in a puff of logic. God still exists, and is a wonderful force for good in the universe, but any suggestion of just where or when makes people very uncomfortable very fast. I guess I’m looking for more.
So, I don’t want to choose between those two options. I feel like God is an active force in my life and in our world, but I’ll be the first to admit that it is pretty difficult to pin it down. It is a faith thing. My experience with God can be very compelling for me, but it is for me. You need to have your own experiences that are compelling for you.
When churches just get good at being churches (which is quite possible) and lose the active sense of God – a real, credible, respectable and inspired sense – they are in danger of losing their soul. It may as well be another club that offers good things for life; not the stuff that changes life by turning it upside down and inside out. By the way, an active God doesn’t just turn people’s lives upside down and inside out, but does that to churches too! So I asked the Jacob’s Well Board, which is responsible for the well-being of our community, to spend some time thinking about how God is active in their lives. I gave them each a composition book and asked them to start keeping track of where God was showing up.
They were pretty good sports about it, it seems. But I admit it isn’t an easy assignment. Not as hard as making our budget balance, but pretty hard. It is going to take some thinking, and soul searching. I know that I have to spend a fair amount of time just thinking about what it means that God is active in my life before I start writing where God is actually there. But that’s me. And I’m hopelessly cerebral and skeptical and all that fun stuff that constipates faith.
So there is God Sighting #1. My intellectual approach to life has had its veneer irreparably cracked to let God in. God did it. God does it. My heart knows God and teaches my head. It may not seem like a lot to you, but it is pretty clearly God’s work to me.
More Active God Coming… the dump truck of affirmation, and the desperation of Haiti. Stay tuned.
Oh, and thanks for reading – I’d appreciate comments.
I have a hard time breaking out of intellectual mode and into faith mode – my veneer, if you will, is unwilling to be cracked, because that’s scary, that’s uncertain, that’s *faith*. Some days I fight more than others. How do you take that step? And as importantly, how do you manage to *keep* taking it daily?
i can see how God works in the world and in my life but when things get hard I begin to close up and seeing and feeling God in my heart becomes more difficult. I honestly wish is was easier, maybe out of the struggles will come good.
“When churches just get good at being churches (which is quite possible) and lose the active sense of God – a real, credible, respectable and inspired sense – they are in danger of losing their soul.” So true, and all too common. I’m struggling with this right now as a church professional. I work at a “nice” church. It’s got a lot of things going for it, but it just lacks energy and vitality. I can’t always put my finger on it, but this thought seems to hit the nail on the head. We’ve gotten too good at simply playing church and have failed to keep in touch with where God is truly present and what he’s doing. We have programs, but we don’t have ministry. I don’t know if the church has lost it’s soul, but it feels like I’m losing mine.