Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I think we passed our turnoff ...

It's disappointing to realize the highway you wanted is a hundred miles back.  Continuing along that nice road is easy, but without benefit.

Welcome to Christendom.  It's huge, expensive, and off course.

Decades ago, a teacher described the lifecycle of such things.  From a legitimate beginning, a pure concept with tremendous power and purpose, often the history reads like this:
'Paintbrush Warrior' by Mark Hanson, 2009
  • Man with a vision - he makes a wonderful, purposeful impact that changes things for the better
  • Men with a mission - those among the hearers who rise up to formalize the changes, but no vision
  • Mankind with a monument - the institutionalized legacy, the speeches and rules and micro-details, but no more changes and no vision
Christendom's curse began in the fourth century with the state establishment of institutionalized religion.  Church became government and big business.  Church politicians played for power, and visionless spokesmen fought furiously over inconsequential details.  And heretics were tortured and killed.  Church became something you attend instead of something you are, and worship became something you watch instead of something you give.  Along the timeline, serious attempts to get back on the highway risked being swallowed up by the same sequence.  
What's obscured in it all?
The short answer; the Author and the vision's purpose.
There was more than one man carrying the vision, of course.  John the Baptist was early on the road, later Paul and Peter, John the Apostle, and more.  None were looking for followers.  They were encouraging folks to connect with the Author of the vision for themselves.

Before them, Elijah, Isaiah ... there's a long list of folks who were pointing the way to the vision's source.  They found themselves struggling against stagnant institutional thinking, much like today, I suppose.  Not every religious leader stayed in that manmade box, but enough did and do to make matters difficult.  Their constituents live under the burden of it, yet the vision lives on despite the mess in the 'upper ranks'.

Today, there are still such folks who encourage us, not to join and be members, but to connect with the vision's Author for ourselves.  Perhaps these are the "apostles and prophets," we're told about.

The emerging church, the one that has turned to pursue the Author, is growing at an extraordinary pace.  In Africa particularly, it's encouraging.

Our hope in it all is not for institutional growth, but for a new awareness and a broad sweep across the nations of those who truly want to know the Author for themselves.  It's happening now, it seems, mostly a divergence from the mainstream.  Many have found the highway.  The high way.

We live in interesting times.