Sunday, April 10, 2016

Church and the Death of Our Wish Dream

Kites over Munson Park, Monroe
Christian community is not essentially about "us" and our needs. James van Yperen writes: "A church organized around meeting needs breeds selfishness, and it inevitably leads to competition, control, and conflict." (James Van Yperen, Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict)

When church people start talking about their needs not being met, we have a big problem rooted in a false, unbiblical idea of "church." James 4:1-5 expresses this.

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, 
that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

The purpose of "Church" is to be a community that is being formed into greater and greater Jesus-likeness (see, e.g., Galatians 4:19). This is what Church is for, not as some Need-Granting Machine.

Ruth Haley Barton writes:

"Christian community is not and never can be about us. When our dreams and convictions about what we think community should be are dashed against the jagged reef of human limitations and failure to live up to one another’s needs and expectations, then and only then are we ready to accept the fact that Christian community is not about us at all. It is about the transforming presence of Christ— all he will do in and through and for each of us." (
Barton, Ruth Haley. Life Together in Christ: Experiencing Transformation in Community, Kindle Locations 246-252)

"The death of our wish dream is really an occasion for great hope" (Ib.), because then God can have his way with us, his people.