Our church experience, week in and week out, is so very apart from the World of the Mega Church, and I couldn't be gladder...if gladder is a word. I'd rather not have my corporate experience carefully crafted for me and presented to me. How demeaning. I want to participate, and engage the messiness of humanity and real relationships and know the mixed blessing of proximity.
Proximity is a mixed blessing, because when you become truly intimate with someone...be it your mate, a friend, or a pastor...you will see the flaws. Can you even handle it?? It is the price you pay for closeness. In Big Church World, most are spared the blessing of proximity. Most don't know their pastor intimately enough to know his every flaw. Most have not gotten to know each other well enough to get through that season of not even liking them anymore. So it all feels comfortable, and everyone "likes" everyone else.
In my church, pretty much every one of us have persevered in the context of proximity, sacrificing our mini-gods of personal peace and affluence, loving each other enough to weather the season of not liking each other. Makes me smile. It is precisely at the point of proximity, that the men are separated from the boys. It takes maturity to know more than you wanted to know about someone, and decide you still love them and want to fellowship with them.
Speaking of maturity, versus immaturity - what about former UT football coach Lane Kiffen? He comes in, declaring his love for the students, his commitment to the program, and leaves very, very suddenly.
All Tim and I know for sure is that a true leader sticks and stays. The Bible says a false leader ("shepherd") leaves an "organization" suddenly. How a man leaves anything...a job or a church or a relationship or a party...will forever characterize him. Every man will proclaim his own goodness, but a faithful man, who can find?
Last night, my daughter and her husband came over with a custom-made gift for their dad. Oh, the dark humor that bubbles in the genetic stew of this family!
I hope your Sunday has been blessed with the proximity of God's people, and with the sweetness of His presence. I pray your church has been a laundromat today - that your mind was washed by the water of the Word! I pray you were made clean by the Word spoken; that the spirit of your mind was renewed and refreshed. I pray you were an integral participant in all facets of worship today, instead of a passive consumer of a pre-packaged experience, presented to you...however expertly presented, that is not church life.
Church life is far harder and infinitely better than that.