Why would I recommend that a group of people get together and inflict upon themselves the labor of talking doctrine until they were of one mind? I don't know whether this comes through, but I know that this is a hard, painful, boring, risky thing to try. I also know that I make myself about as popular as the flu when I suggest it.
So, why suggest it?
Not only that, but this is my third try at this concluding post. In the first attempt I quoted a bunch of scripture. (If anyone doubts that the bible requires something like this, and promises to it is possible, I can pull those verses up from draft.) In the second attempt I talked about the nature of the family. Both posts were offal.
Beyond even that whining, tonight is no night to be typing. All week I have felt like death on a stick, and tonight is only marginally better. There's not a thing on earth wrong, but I just want to curl up and go to sleep. I am still sitting here for only one reason. I wonder what I'm going to say, and I won't find out if I don't type.
I am here because I've had my heart broken by the church, and I know it doesn't have to be that way.
I've had my heart broken in the organized church. That's the kind of heartbreak you feel when you tell your family that you will be able to make it home for the holidays for the first time in a decade, and they tell you that they already have plans that weekend. (This is just an analogy, not a real story.) You have the birth certificate that tells you about your kin, but you don't really have a family. I agreed with my churches' doctrines, and we lived out a little of our love on Sundays and Wednesdays, but it wasn't enough.
I had my heart broken in the home church, too. That's the kind of heartbreak that happens when you find the most beautiful girl in the world, marry her, and find out you can't talk about anything that matters. An elephant sits in the living room dropping these gargantuan presents on the floor, and nobody can even clean them up. To clean the floor would be to admit that there was such a thing as an elephant. Eventually, the elephant dies of neglect, and everyone finally has to move out of the house.
(Forgive me for being obtuse. Tonight the emotions are running high.)
Doctrines are not the center of the universe, but let me look at them again.
In the organized church, "being right" meant that every doctrine was ordered for us before we ever got there. If a verse failed to fit into that pattern, then we had to shut up until someone could explain our error. It was when I transferred between denominations that I began to doubt this strategy. In every denomination "being right" meant having your doctrines in order, but the order was different every time. I was supposed to denominate myself from all those of the other order? Bah.
That was lunacy, so I went to the home church.
In the home church, "being right" meant never opening up any subject, except Jesus. Jesus was beautiful, and He was everything we needed. Amen. Except that Jesus did and said hard to understand things. The Jesus they leaned upon was one Who did and said everything in the ideal of the eternal realms where nobody could possibly be confused. We feared confrontation, so we drifted further and further toward the safest possible religion. We settled into an awful and mushy flavor of mystical.
Issues came up between us, but they tinkled to the floor, unacknowledged.
One day, there were too many issues, and we could not live in denial forever. We had tried to "deny" our way to faith, and failed. Denial is no garden bed for love.
So, really. After 2 long posts and in the middle of another I have to ask, "Do we need to talk out every doctrine?"
Just the ones that stand between us. Denying that they are between will not work, while acknowledging them gives us a chance to grow in so many ways!
And doctrine is only the tip of the iceberg. For example, things should happen when a brother offends. Maybe the offended party needs to get a grip, and lose some prissiness. Maybe the offender needs to apply a little direct heat to his heart, and thaw some of that ice. Either way, it is the denial that so often passes for forgiveness that will kill the church. They talk about death by a thousand paper cuts. The church dies by a thousand half-forgivings.
I don't care how we start talking to each other. I don't care how we start relating. I just know that Jesus did not die and rise again to see love lived within such limiting structures.
We need to remember the Love that now lives in us, and let it supply the courage to live it out. I have been in love before, and love doesn't just shake hands and walk away on Sundays and Wednesdays. Love lingers and labors. Love finds ways to lavish itself or even to leak out when it shouldn't. Love keeps the air clean between us. Love works very hard.
I don't care how we do it, but let's do this.