The church. I’ve been thinking about her a lot the past few months. The things she says; the way she moves; how she sees herself, the way others perceive her; the way she wounds, the ways in which she is wounded.
My own narcissism and insecurities play into her, not knowing at times whether to justify every iota thrown against her or to commit her to the asylum and walk away. It is only a small portion of her I see in my region or as she is paraded/stumbling across the social media stage, but that is the part I know.
A conflict of imagination is within her. On one hand she dis-believes in all that she knows true, floating in the cultures nihilistic tendencies, stuck in all that is vanity, medicating, not wanting to chase after the wind, but neither coming to the end of herself which would be far better than stalemate. On the other hand, she hears the deep calling out to deep, seeing barriers and barricades constantly crumbling with no gate of hell prevailing as her God is the God who breaks through.
She knows her pace must change, to turn the time tables on their heads. If there is to be a type of striving, it is to enter rest, not to toil until tired. If there is a work of God to do it is to believe in Christ, to be in his inhale and exhale and out of this oneness love more than she ever has. Patience… let the thorns of the future die and be in the eternal now. There is no other place to be. She need not worry about laziness in this season, but be concerned with being busy in the wrong things that seem noble but strip away joy and debilitate gospel proclamation.
But she is being worn thin, toying with two masters. She has been given choice and in this matter it’s not about head or heart or hands, but about will and whether she will let go of expectations from herself and the society and walk the narrow path of Christ’s way. Without faith, an act of faith, impossible it will be for her to stabilize on her foundation.
Art can aide in revelation, uncovering something or putting it in a way that enables us to unlock certain doors. This helps us to pray with our minds. Art also acts as a transporter, taking the participant/recipient somewhere mystical in unexplainable beauty. This helps us pray in the Spirit. In intercession, we not only petition for another, but we feel for them. We take on their pain, their hurt, the injustice laid upon them; perhaps we feel the weight of the sin they are stubbornly wadding in; maybe we connect with their desires, dreams, and longings. Sometimes God even drops His heart into us for a moment, destroying us in a brutally redemptive way.
A musical artist, My Brightest Diamond, has been helping me to pray for the church. Here are the main tracks that have served me in feeling for/with the Church.
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James R. Payton Jr. (Getting the Reformation Wrong) said that the four questions the Protestant Reformation sought to answer were…
- How is a person saved?
- Where does religious authority lie?
- What is the church?
- What is the essence of Christian living?
TheoCult contributor and pastor Jay McCumber believes that the first two questions were answered in the Reformation, but the latter two were not. He believes the third will be answered in the next reformation (whatever that may look like and whenever that may be).
Not having the third question (What/who is the church?) answered in spirit and truth has produced an ambiguous name sake for the Church, which then has led us to apply thinly masked cultural competitors to her (such as business models or humanistic frameworks), which in return has stripped her of her appropriate authority (at least effectively). No one is listening to her because she is trying to be someone she is not.
Perhaps the church’s identity crisis and this undefined birthright is finally culminating to a breaking point, a breaking point when, in complete acknowledged brokenness, her true life will come about. You know, that whole life out of death thing that sounds poetic and good on paper, but is actually a redemptive catastrophe when walking out.
The church’s breath and being and glory are solid and secure, intertwined with Christ – but her manifest beauty is crying out to be released. Perhaps in a time when she is silenced she will finally hear her call and find her voice.