We have a primarily Caucasian middle-class perspective at NRCC. This greatly influences our perception of what it means to follow Jesus. Many of us were taught that if we followed "the rules" and did enough of the "right things" it would make Jesus happy. Similarly, Jesus would be unhappy if we did the wrong things or did not do "enough" of the right things. This created a great disparity in association between those who were "in" [the good graces of Jesus] and those who were "out" (i.e. those needing to be redeemed). While this seems like a natural progression of
Continuing our look at how language informs meaning, and in particular how the future perfect tense helps us think about... - the spiritual journey before us... - how we live in spiritual community.
Living in the Future-Perfect Tense. Yet another skill necessary if we would reweave the spiritual community so necessary for our souls to thrive. Here's how it works. We live in Time-X. But the great hope of our tradition is a state of redemption and soul-health. We are moving toward that state, approaching Time Z. The trouble is the getting... from here to there. Our tradition speaks of another element (Event-Y) that happens on this journey; a means by which we move from now... to then.
"Service." We continue looking at how service wears down and wears out the false-self beliefs we build our lives on. It's a hassle, to be sure. However, it is a hassle the way eating salad is a hassle. We may prefer nachos and beer, but two things: 1) salads can actually taste good once we train ourselves, and 2) when we make salads a bigger part of our diet than nachos, we like how our bodies respond. Service is not unlike that for the soul.
"Service." One of the ancient skills necessary to live well in the environment in which our souls thrive. One of the ancient skills necessary to live in authentic spiritual community. But perhaps not for the reasons you might think. We come to the ancient Christian practice of service for a lot of reasons - usually not good ones. But that, it turns out, is the very beauty of the practice. It has a powerful capacity to purify motives.
"Confession." That's a word I hate to use because of the images I know it conjures up. If we grew up Catholic, we see images of boxes and priests telling us to say "hail-Mary's." If we grew up Protestant, we see ourselves telling our dark sins to the preacher or the accountability partner. It's all about 'fessing up; saying out loud the bad thing we did.
It's tough to put a name on skill #3 in this lesson... maybe "developing a tougher skin?" Maybe "being able to receive criticism?" No, neither of those are right. In fact, in this lesson I never give this skill a name. Probably closest would be "putting personal growth before being treated right." Rather than defining terms, I'll you a story - a story about a mental posture that has helped me live my life in spiritual community... and how good this skill has been for my soul.
As we saw earlier this year, humility is often misunderstood. It smacks of servility or insecurity. Not so. Humility starts with a profound understanding that we carry the image of God, and a settled understanding of what it means to be human - growing. So... to live in authentic spiritual friendships, this lesson will contend, we need to grow in the spiritual skill of humility.
Skill #1: Growth. Stands to reason doesn't it? If we don't have a learning and growing posture, we don't grow into the skills, competencies, and emotional framework to do spiritual friendships well. Look around if you don't believe me. As a society, we feel deeply alienated, and as a society, our spiritual, emotional, and relational skills are atrophying at alarming rates. So, we're talking about rebuilding them.
Before the holiday break we were talking about how we, as we are becoming a mid-size church, can keep alive one of our core values – authentic spiritual community. Continuing that lesson today, we’re talking about several related themes; today, some stories relating to both the early church’s quest for community and diversity, and our […]
In our fiercely independent and individualistic culture, authentic community is tough. Authentic spiritual community... even tougher. Nevertheless, we're going to try and do it. As a mid-size, American church, we're going to try and figure out how to form networks of spiritually trusting, strengthening, friendships. In this lesson (over next several weeks), I'll be talking about why and how.
Our community has doubled in size in the last three years, with a lot of that growth coming in the last 12 months. Community has always been a value of ours, but now, we leave small church behind us, and are becoming a mid-size church, we have to be very intentional about making NRCC a place conducive to authentic community, trusted and trustworthy, spiritual friendships.