Monday, April 30, 2012

Truth and Imperfection in the Church

"Unfortunately, though, the ramifications of telling the truth shouldn’t be considered. The only thing that should be considered is obedience to God. And He wants us to tell the truth." - Donald Miller
"Paul criticized the church, as did John and Christ Himself. We want to deify the church, or, more honestly, market the church. We shouldn’t. We should confess our sins and be open and honest about our depravity, both individually and collectively. Those who walk in the light have more, not less of their sins exposed. The very idea that those who make up the church pretend to be perfect indicates they do not walk in the light."  - Donald Miller
My small group at church is wending its way through Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.  Next week we'll be talking about chapter 12, which is about how Miller, who dislikes organizations, came to stop disliking church.  Blue Like Jazz was published in 2003, so it's probably been ten years, and I found it interesting to read the above post on what Miller thinks of the church now.  The post also identified some of the reasons why I was feeling so enraged when my alma mater was trying to have it both ways (get away with things the church gets away with while simultaneously pretending it's a business and thus can't be held accountable like a church).

I also find it interesting (and sad and maybe a bit ironic) that this is yet another post that got yanked after being published.  Maybe he just realized he wanted to use it in a book.  Maybe the comments got out of hand.  Maybe his publisher made him pull it down because of pressure from the church.  I should remember to copy the entire contents of his posts and save them somewhere for later use in case I try to refer to them, and they are gone.

In chapter 12 of Blue Like Jazz, Miller talks about a pastor he knew who basically restored his faith in the church as the church he was going to wounded that faith simultaneously.  This pastor was doing really great loving and acts of service, but Miller's church friends were telling him to avoid the guy because this pastor swore.  This pastor was doing God's will in terms of loving his neighbor. Meanwhile, Miller's neighbors were stumbling over cusswords and missing the truth coming out of the cussing pastor's mouth.

I want to be someone who values truth over superficial conformity, reality over appearance, actions over words.  I think Jesus wants me to do this.  I think He was pretty clear about this during His life in both His words and actions.  This belief alienates me from some people in the church, and that breaks my heart a little (but not that much since I am not a big people person).  I think my philosophy that God puts you around all sorts of people who need you and can teach you if you just look around applies here.  The ones I'm here for aren't the ones who are "healthy."  They can keep themselves company.  I'm okay offending them by doing God's will.  But it sure makes it hard to really feel like part of my current local church.

I've found a church I'm going to try on recommendation.  Honestly, I'm pretty iffy on them because their "doctrinal statement" is pretty mushy, and that's somewhat important to me.  I guess the question may be whether a church with true but very basic doctrine will be where I can fit and be needed or whether it will make me a little crazy like the bad doctrine at my previous church did.

I'm game to find out because I think I agree with Derek Webb's song that says, "If you love Me, you will love the church."  I'm trying, God, but right now, love is feeling a lot like duty, and my duty muscles are severely strained . . . 

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