Our book discussion on Finding Church continues with chapter 16.
If you’ve never seen it work, it is hard to imagine how Jesus can bring order to his family without the need for human management. So much of our management tactics are designed to mitigate those who would exploit the body of Christ for their own needs, but employing them gives us a short-term answer at the expense of long-term freedom and life.
Human management is a scheme of the old creation and as such it will always fail over time. While men and women of great character and compassion can do fairly well with it for a season, their tacts will trend away from a growing dependence on Jesus and a trust that love transforms people and gravitate toward policies and rules that will do more to harm than help.
Many fear the only other option, however, is chaos. Everyone does what is best in their self-interest and that is true of people living in the old order. But those who embrace the transformative love of Christ will find love and respect more fruitful building blocks to the community of the new creation. But to do that you have to trust that Jesus, by his Spirit, can manage the growing community.
Excerpt from Chapter 16:
When people who are on a spiritual journey get near each other, the church takes expression. He had no idea what simple joy and life could come out of being together and how fruitful it would be, not only for that week but also for years to come because of the new friendships that were formed. I’ve had the joy of watching a web of relationships grow around the world and see how those connections enrich Christ’s work and allow us to see him more fully.
For that to continue, however, we all have to resist the temptation to throw a structure around it and start monthly, quarterly, or yearly meetings. By doing so we sow the seeds for a new faction in the family and seriously damage the spontaneity of his work by putting a human agenda to it. As excited as I was to be part of this Wicklow gathering a few years ago, I was thrilled that at its end no one pressed to make it a yearly event or formalize a network. There have been other gatherings in other places as people felt inspired to plan and host them, but there has been no attempt to get the same people together at the same place. In fact many on this journey have a hesitation to repeat anything only because it was wonderful the first time, given our propensity to value routine over reality. Tradition is the attempt to get God to repeat something he did once, again and again to the same results. But the breath of the Spirit is too unique for such attempts and we only end up capturing ourselves in routines long after he has moved on.
You can find the discussion board here and see the list of topics we’ve covered. You can start at Chapter 1 and work your way through, or just join us in Chapter 16.