Sunday, June 21, 2009

Room Enough at the Table?

Two months ago I asked my husband if we could visit other churches. This wasn't an out-of-the-blue request but part of a discovery process. After 13 years in one place, I started to wonder if there was a better fit for us within the larger body of Christ.

On the surface, you could argue that my weight loss made me more outgoing and comfortable enough to blaze new trails and make new connections. You might even say that being a work-at-home mom with a son entering public school left me feeling out of place at our old church of mostly homeschooling, stay-at-home moms. But the reasons, I'm learning, run even deeper.

Something clicked when a trusted friend lent me "The Irresistible Revolution" by Shane Claiborne. On a quest to live an authentic Christian life, Claiborne encountered a condition called 'spiritual bulimia' which he describes as consuming large amounts of Christian books and merchandise that are never digested. Instead, he vomited the information up to those around him while starving to death spiritually, "suffocated by Christianity but thirsty for God" (p39). It was easy to see evidence of spiritual bulimia in my own life. I had learned to sound spiritual to fit in at church while suppressing my own thoughts and emotions. For the sake of appearances, I stopped being real. And despite the old adage that nothing I do would cause God to love me more or love me less, I got caught up in performance-based Christianity.

As these revelations came to the forefront, I felt like a fish out of water, no longer at peace in the church I'd called home for so many years. After all, my life had changed a lot since I set foot in that church-planting home fellowship 13 years ago. God allowed me to journey through blessings, trials and losses- all of which influence who I am today.

I consulted another trusted friend about my concerns. In a related conversation, she warned me about a "new Christianity" being preached in a book titled "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell. Curious, I bought the book and found that I could again relate to the author's struggles:

I started identifying how much of my life was about making sure the right people were pleased with me. And as this became more and more clear, I realized how less and less pleased I was with myself. What happens is our lives become so heavily oriented around the expectations of others that we become more and more like them and less and less like ourselves.

Could this be why, after trying so hard to fit in, I felt a lack of peace with myself? Bell's counselor told him "Your job is the relentless pursuit of who God made you to be. And anything else you do is sin and you need to repent of it" (p114). It became time to embrace who God made ME to be, a creative-type wife and adoptive mom who enjoys lively worship, encouraging messages, working from home and watching her son blossom in a classroom setting. "No apologies for who I'm meant to be" as the song "Undone" goes by MercyMe.

I have concluded that both Claiborne and Bell are seeking after God. Call them radical. Call them emergent. Call them whatever you want. But they have valuable thoughts to share, thoughts I needed to hear for direction and healing. Actually, there is a whole slew of teachers I've benefited from despite reservations I've heard from some believers like:

"Joel Osteen doesn't preach about sin."

"Bill Hybels is seeker-sensitive."

"Rick Warren serves alongside non-Christians."

"Beth Moore promotes contemplative prayer."

My question is this: Isn't there room enough at the marriage supper table for all Christians?

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

If God has room at His table for all of the whosovers-our neighbors, coworkers, family, friends, even us- why are we so critical of each other? I propose there's not only room enough, but God is looking forward to seeing his reserved table filled with His diverse followers. Let's start our eternal life together by showing love, respect and appreciation for each other here on earth, despite actual or perceived differences. If I hadn't, I would have missed out on insightful teachers with revelations for my sanctification.


1 comment:

AudreyO said...

Life changes...each and every day. I know many people who changed churches for all sorts of reasons. I enjoy new beginnings.

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