Thursday, April 17, 2008

Master Mentor #25

Chapter 24 (Book 4, Chapter 2)
This morning, CS begins to explain this notion that Christians have about the Trinity. And he begins to explain it in terms of lines, shapes and objects. I’m not sure that his examination is all that powerful. Mostly because we have always been able to see the objects. We can understand the objects. And since we can, it doesn’t make any sense to speculate about a time when we could only see lines or shapes.

But then he goes on to say that our understanding of God is revealed in the midst of the Christian community. He says this, “The one really adequate instrument for learning about God, is the whole Christian community, waiting for Him together” (page 145, emphasis mine). I think the word that jumped out to me there was the word ‘whole.’ By whole, does CS mean each individual ‘whole’ congregation or does he mean the ‘whole of Christianity?’ I don’t know.

It would seem that in both directions, the non-believing world is going to get a pretty skewed view of God. Local congregations are capable of incredible things. They are capable of showing God in incredible and powerful ways. They serve people… help people… make a difference in the world and the community and in individual lives. But local congregations are also capable of incredible harm. They have the capacity of hurting and maiming people like no one else on the face of the planet can. They use people… hurt people… and make people want to turn away from God in such incredible ways. I love the local church, don’t get me wrong. But I have seen more than my fair share of times when the church did some incredibly knuckleheaded things to families and people that left me shaking my head in disgust. But I have also seen the church do some things that inspired my personal relationship with God.

But on the flipside, what does the image of the whole of Christianity have on on-lookers? How many thousands of denominations do we have, all clamoring to be the ‘right’ group within Christianity? On-looking non-believers look at the church and say, “God is love. How do I know that God is love when this group who says they ‘love God’ and that group who say that they ‘love God,’ both hate each other? Its here that Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23… “20"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” But maybe that’s the Restoration Movement within me (a movement founded on the principles of the Biblical pattern for church and unity among Christian brothers… but also saw it’s own group divide twice in three groups over differences).

So, I guess I would like a little clarification on CS’s meaning here. But that’s the struggle of having a conversation in a coffee shop with a fellow that hasn’t been around for 40 years. Clarification is somewhat difficult.


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