My wife, Lindsey, is an incredible human being. I cannot begin to tell you how many times she’s been right on so many different topics.
Last night she was right again.
There are times when we sit down to have conversations that I get completely blindsided by what she says. Knowing I’m a stubborn ass, there are a lot of times when she has to come at me with righteous indignation. This conversation was one of those times, and boy did I sit there afterward feeling like a complete failure – that’s a great thing! That meant that I had heard what she said even though I didn’t want to hear it. But I’ll be damned if she wasn’t right, and I needed to hear it!
There aren’t many people in my life that have a place to speak truth to me. I’ve written about this here. That post talks about how Love trumps truth, and I stand by it completely. Lindsey is one of the few people that has the relationship with me to speak truth so I can hear it, and I treasure it dearly. She used truth to show me where I’d been missing the target in regard to loving others.
The topic of our conversation was simple: “You’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater – you’ve learned to love the outcast, but you’ve now written off the Bride.”
Damnit, that stings!
Of course, being the stubborn person I am, I immediately put up my defenses. I didn’t want to hear a bit of it! She pointed out how I’ve done well to learn to love those we feel are being rejected by the church, but at the same time I’ve completely rejected the church. This is a fine line to walk for sure, but it’s one that I can admit now that I’ve been on the wrong side of.
To those I’ve offended:
To keep this as short and sweet as possible, I’ll try to break it down as simply as I know how.
After reading Pagan Christianity, Lindsey and I discovered that there are many things that we believe the American church is doing wrong. That’s not a bad thing; it’s not even a negative thing. Learning about church history and why/if things ought not to be done a particular way can be a powerful lesson! The problem Lindsey pointed out is is how I took it to the opposite extreme. Instead of taking my newfound history lesson and righting our family’s ship, I opted for the liferaft.
I did that by assuming all pastors, churches, Christians are wrong. I know that’s not true, and I’ve even pointed out in some of my previous posts how there are a lot of churches doing things right and accomplishing awesome stuff! …Regardless of my knowing that, I still made a mistake. I mistakenly grouped all of them together and refused to be a part of the collective Bride.
The truth is that there are many churches doing great things and loving others well! There are churches that are accepting the outcasts – proving to them that there are bodies of believers that will openly love them and – without exception – allow them to take their place by operating in the collective Body. Even though I see the difference now between the institutional church and the organism that is the Bride, that doesn’t mean that the Bride isn’t or can’t fulfill its calling within the institution. That’s where I made my error.
As for my approach to my blog posts, I’d like to publically apologize if I’ve come across as an asshole – especially to those that are in churches. If I’ve offended you by making it seem as though you aren’t operating as part of the Body, I’m wrong in that, and I’m sincerely sorry. Throwing the baby out with the bath water wouldn’t be right here either. To that end, the meat in my posts will stay, but I’ll certainly attempt to use grace in my future posts.
It’s also my belief that if we choose God – if we choose Jesus, we’re dutifully called to gather together for the expressed purpose of worship. I feel like there are a million different ways to worship an eternal God, and gathering in a building that has an institutional title nailed to the door is definitely one of those ways. It absolutely meets the criteria, and I’ve wrongfully interpreted that by grouping that form of worship with what I feel the American church has gotten wrong.
Of course, you can gather together anywhere, any day, any time and accomplish this inside or outside of a building. I know that – I believe in that. I haven’t done that. Not even at home where it matters most.
So, to Lindsey, Ryan, and to Addie – I’m sorry. I’ve been wrong. You deserve better, I deserve better, God deserves worship – at home, with friends, in a church building…all of those things are inconsequential so long as it happens.
To those on a spiritual journey:
No matter what you learn, never get to the place where you make the mistakes I’ve made and outlined here. Choosing Love is always the right choice, defending outcasts is the right choice – but choosing also to love those you find yourself in disagreement with is also the right choice! It’s not that I didn’t love them in the depths of myself, but I didn’t reflect that properly. Instead, I came across as cynical and self righteous. When choosing to give Love away, choose to give Love to everyone.
Derek Webb has long been a favorite songwriter of ours. Recently, we’ve begun to listen to his songs in the light of our learned experiences, and they’re absolutely beautiful. Our favorite album of his is called “The House Show.” You can listen to it in its entirety here on Youtube. One of the songs that he wrote and performed on that album is called “I Repent.” I’d like to share pieces of those lyrics with you as part of my own repentance, and I’d also like to invite you to listen to the song here: I Repent by Derek Webb.
I repent, I repent of parading my liberty.
I repent, I repent of paying for what I get for free,
and for the way I believe that I am living right
by trading sins for others that are easier to hide,
I am wrong and of these things I repent.
I repent of wearing righteousness like a disguise
to see through the planks in my own eyes.
I repent, I repent of trading truth for false unity.
I repent, I repent of confusing peace and idolatry.
I am wrong, and of these things I repent.