As I’ve mingled among fellow followers of Jesus who are getting detoxed and unplugged from the ways of church business, there’s the ongoing issue that we are still carrying in our bones a lot of the church business ways. I certainly have my own stuff to deal with.
Let’s not over-think this. We don’t have to have it all figured out. In fact, we don’t have to have ANYthing figured out. Jesus called us to follow him, right? The key for me becomes getting as good as I can at day-by-day, year-over-year, following Jesus. Having “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” what he is doing. In many ways, if you haven’t had years of church business, the art of following him in this may be much easier for you.
Clearly this life of following Jesus is not a solo act, but we’re part of a body, family, army – pick your metaphor. So together, in some local, collective fashion, we figure out how to follow his lead. If you’re by yourself, it’s just the natural thing as fellow human sojourners on the earth to find others who want to go the same direction and walk togther. Simple. Who cares what it looks like, where you do it, who you go with, what you do together, etc. etc. It’s about simply following Jesus together, right? I believe there’s a ton of freedom here, we just need to ask him what he’s doing, and follow. One of the challenging things about striking out in something new is allowing yourself to even entertain an unfamiliar thought or idea.
I propose we, as his bride, do the 1-step dance with Jesus. Especially if you’ve had a lot of history in church businesses, if you’re thinking more than just the next step, I bet you anything you’re already over-thinking it – meaning you’ve gone past what he’s really saying. And if you feel all that entrepreneurial energy surging within, “hey! we can do this! we have the technology! the harvest is ripe!!” – whoa, steady cobra. I recommend caution, hard-hat required. Things might start falling down all around you. All too often we go down those same old paths of crankin’ out church like we crank out American business – and we don’t even realize it. Especially if we think about it mostly by ourselves (“sole proprietorship”, “start your own business”) in our own world of thought, instead of out in the open with trusted relationships of the body of Christ in our world (but someone might steal my idea!).
Let’s do the 1-step: just get together with others in the body, and take 1 step together. Gather, have a meal, go home. Then do it again, and take it 1-step more – together. Talk about it, let your ideals melt into something that becomes everyone’s – and no “ones”. Meaning no “one” can say “look what I thought up”, because it has a little bit of everyone’s thinking in it, and it becomes clear that Jesus is Shepherding it. And then you don’t care so much if you need to chuck some or all of it, and redo. If you’re like us (really, we’re pretty normal!) you’ll probably end up in a WAY different place than if you rushed in headlong. And you won’t birth another Ishmael – you know, man’s idea, that causes a lot of grief, and that lives on right along with God’s idea, that will indeed come to pass. And if you go slow, as a group, our experience is that you have a much higher likelihood of ending up where he’s in charge and you are not carrying the burden to keep things going under your own flesh steam. Which is where we really want to be, right? So in a very real sense, this way is much quicker. The fast-track, don’t-go-together, don’t-wait-on-God ways seem exciting for awhile, and lots of cool stuff seems to be happening…but then there’s the carnage, the fallout, and all the stuff that has to get unraveled, and relearned. Again. Yuck.
Here’ s the 1-step program in Isaiah 42:
“I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”
I believe blindness describes what most of us in the church are really dealing with today, even though there are things we are starting to see. And unfamiliar describes our path, even though much of it feels like we’ve “come home.” It’s not the home we’ve known, and it doesn’t always seem intuitive how to live there. The emphasis I like in this scripture is that God is the one doing all the work, and he’s putting the focus on lighting up the path “before them” – just the next step.
I definitely see that God, by his Spirit, is leading many to think his thoughts, to have dreams and visions of what he’s doing, and to follow his lead. The deal, of course, is turning away from the flesh and following after the Spirit. May we be strong, courageous, and wise!