Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.


In response to my one of my blogs about church, a good friend graciously bought me a book and sent it to me by post. I read it, or I should say, re-read it. (I’d read it about 3 years ago.) Its not bad; very consistent with the authors other writing. (I’ve read many of his books.)

Basically, the author, Neil Anderson, has answered the question “What’s wrong with the Church?” with the answer “How you think of yourself.” He believes strongly that Church fails to be what God intended her to be because the members of the Church believe lies about themselves. They believe that they are worthless parasites pulling down the church in specific and the world around them in general, when, in actuality, they are sanctified (a five dollar word for soul scrubbing), adopted children of God.

Its a good book in some ways. I subscribe to the “buffet theory” of reading non-fiction. Walk through the whole buffet, take what you like and leave the rest for someone else. But I challenge Mr Anderson at his most basic presupposition…

(I have to say first that I agree very much with Mr. Anderson in some respects. Before I read the book I had already come to the conclusion that I will never allow any Christian leader to call me a filthy sinner ever again. If the Bible is true, then I am sanctified and no person will ever again make me go where I do not wish to go or do what I do not wish to do, or even feel what I do not wish to feel by brow beating me into it.) But in the end he fears the power of his own argument. He makes a statement, but doesn’t dare take it to conclusion, for to do so would spell the unraveling of a 1600 year old system of manipulation, fear, and profit. (I leave the first 400 years open to discussion.)

The reason that most people in the Church find themselves worthy of contempt is because they are, in fact, contemptible. Actions are the truest test of belief. If a Christian is truly honest with himself about the nature of his faith and his God, then the average actions of the average Christian (including himself) are pathetic, pale, shallow and empty. Christian literally means “little Christ”, but who lives that? Who heals the sick, raises the dead, teaches the masses? Who foresees the future, prophesies, etc. Have all of us forgotten what Jesus did to the money changers in the house of God? Jesus beat them. In a premeditated act, he saw what was wrong, went home, braided a whip, and beat the hell out of a bunch of men who were selling the kingdom of God for personal gain. How many Christian Businessmen Association meetings have we broken up with a baseball bat? We change the meanings of Jesus’ verbs so we can partake in the actions. Jesus said to prophesy, so we redefine prophesy as “Christian love” so we can say we “prophesy” when we merely cry. He said we will be persecuted for our beliefs. By persecuted he meant beaten, burned alive, raped, murdered, etc. We say that when nonbelievers point out our blatant hypocrisy we are “persecuted”.

In all we are a pathetic lot. We beat our selves for our sins while decrying the same sins in the “world”. Our divorce rate exceeds that of those who don’t call themselves followers of Christ. We send missionaries all over the world while the poor in our own churches and land are slighted. Very few in the church know any happiness. Christ and the prophets set standard so high that we feel only misery if we try to meet it. And there’s a good reason for that: We’re not supposed to!

All good things are gifts from God. I am good mechanic. It has saved me and others tens of thousands of dollars over the years. That is a gift from God. I have a God given gift to be a car mechanic. God gives gifts for his own glory. So when I am out putting in a water pump, I am, in a small way, fulfilling my purpose on this earth. When I turn a wrench on a car (and if I owe any penance, working on Fords covers that…) I am worshiping God and bringing glory to his name. My work is cars. My work brings God as much glory as Mother Theresa’s! God never asks that we fit some mold, he asks only that we do our very best at our given gift. If a pastor puts in 2 hours working a sermon and I put in 2 hours fixing someones car, both of us have brought glory to God. And neither of us is more or less qualified to “lead” anything. Seriously, the fact that a person’s God given gift is in writing sermons doesn’t mean that their opinion about God is worth anymore than anyone else’s. It’s perfectly fine if I never do the things that Christ did. Christ had a job to do. His job was to be the Messiah. He did his very best at it, and that bought glory to God. But when it comes to being like Christ, the aspect to copy is not the job, the aspect to copy is the reason he worked so hard. He did his best for the glory of his father. If your job is cleaning out septic tanks and you do your very best at it, for the glory of your heavenly father, then you are being Christ-like.

When a follower of John asked Christ how John will know that Jesus is the Christ indeed, Christ says “The blind see. The lame walk. And the poor hear the gospel.” And its the answer today. Where the blind see, the lame walk, and the poor hear the gospel, God is. Where they don’t, well, he isn’t.

Consider the following: A pastor leads a church. The pastor is a person who has a gift to love and care about people. Perhaps he has a gift to teach as well. He is doing his best at his God given gift. He is even being subsidized by the congregation to do them, so he has no worries of room or board he can simply practice his gift all day. Good for him! He is blessed

But the congregation suffers. If the congregation believes that the pastor has the moral right to lead, they must corespondingly believe that they do not. They see the pastorship as place to aspire to rather than simply a differnt gift. They take no joy in their work because they believe that it exists only to provide income to the pastor and missionaries (the other apirational class).

Thus, they can only see their value in terms of supporting someone else. They have no desire to do the things the pastor does, and curse their passion for plumbing or film making or middle management as “wordly”. The pastors, well meaning, but mislead, encourage this idea. They tell their congregation that when they give money they are “partnering” with the valuable agenda of the pastor. The pastor is following his God given calling, but no one else is. If you have 400 people in a room and only one is following God, how much of God do you expect to see?

In reality God is as delighted with good plumbing as a good plumber is (He designed our bowels right?) He is delighted with person practicing good middle management as he is with a person writing worship music. (Even notice God’s deep love of seargents? Find one negetive reference of a centurion in the New Testament. Infact, Chist tells a centurion (Master Seargent) he has the most faith he has seen in Israel.)

The problem that faces the Church is indeed a crisis of identy, and the people really do believe lies about themselves. However, as is so often the case, the liar is not Satan (as Neil Anderson suggests) it’s our trusted leaders. (Man rarely needs Satan’s “help” to hurt himself or others.) The lie is that the leaders in the church have any right to lead at all and that the only role for those who are not called to be pastors/misssionaries/worship leaders is to prostitute the gifts they have to provide for the needs of the “gifted”.

I remain Ronin.

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment