Saturday, October 1, 2005

"If only we were like the NT church"

Ahh...I believe this may be the first of many posts concerning God's loving correction and reproof of me, calling me into Christlikeness is some currently unwelcome ways--or at least unwelcome according to my flesh.

In July I was warned that "when you go on STINT, all your dirty laundry comes out." It's about that time, folks. I'm a selfish, cynical prick whose main goal is to look out for Number One. I snap at my roommates for playing video games, I take offense at their suggestions on improving Bible study, and I hold total double-standards for cleanliness in this house. And yet we fight to be honest with one another, voice our concerns and irritations, and pray for one another to know Jesus and be healed by him. Who is this scraggly bunch of nitpicking, easily irked men? Is this, dare I say, the body of Christ?

If you would have asked me what my ideal of Christian fellowship is before living with four other believers my senior year at MSU, and then living with three believers this past year, and now living with four more in our apartment in Istanbul, you'd never get an answer that matches my experience. I want kumbayah and the fellowship of earthly saints; what I get instead is an amalgamation of really vocal slobs whose only sainthood is that of Christ in heaven. Let's admit it: Christian community is less "peace like a river" and more like, as Donald Miller calls it in Blue Like Jazz, "living with freaks" (yours truly included).*

A wise man named Dietrich once wrote on community and men like me: "The serious Christian, set down for the first [or, in my case, third] time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God's grace speedily shatters such dreams."** He goes on to say, "He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter". Ouch. But it's true; we aren't called to love our imagination or our emotions, but rather people chosen by God from before all worlds for assemblage into the family of his redeemed (Eph 1.4).

Brother- or sisterhood in the faith is not something that increases or grows as we know more of Christ and bear the fruits of his Spirit. As soon as my brother Jordan was born in 1984, we were brothers. He didn't progress into my brother; he was born and that was that. It wasn't my choice to have this poopy little kid who would suck my parents' attention away from me, but God placed us under the same roof. It's much the same with spiritual family. At the moment of our justification, we all were placed into the same body. Dietrich goes on: "Christian brotherhood is not an ideal which we must realize; it is a reality created by God in Christ in which we may participate. The more clearly we learn to recognize that the ground and strength and promise of all our fellowship is in Jesus Christ alone, the more serenely shall we think of our fellowship and pray and hope for it."

On top of that, I must say I'm grateful that not only has God given to me four brothers in my everyday life, but also a wonderful new church here at the Union Church of Istanbul (a.k.a. Dutch Chapel).

* Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2003)
** Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (New York: Harper & Row, 1954)


Ryan P.T. said...

"I'm a selfish, cynical prick who only looks out for Number One."

I thought you went to MSU.

Drew said...

Well put, mon frere, especially after watching the stunning overtime loss tonight with some Wolverines. "University of Michigan: Where your best just isn't good enough since 1817."

halfmom said...

Thanks for your honesty and your willingness to put it in writing. I was rather bitterly contemplating why the body of Christ so often acts like Dr. Frankenstein made it out of spare parts that don’t fit or work together, when I read your post. It really helped put things back into perspective.

Cassie said...

Isn't it amazing that sometimes the hardest people to live with are our Christian brothers and sisters??? Still blows my mind on Drew!