Saturday, June 11, 2005

Time for Relationships and Community

I have been meeting with a couple of other men, both of whom are looked up to in the church community, but who are also struggling with the weight of sin just like I am. What I have come to find out is that I am indeed quite normal, I am not crazy, and I am not the only one who struggles with sin. I am not the only one who does stupid things. I am not alone. I am thankful for the transparency and non-judgmental openness of these 2 men, who have been willing to encourage me and pray for me.
What I see in these men is that we all struggle with something (whether or not we are individually willing to admit it.) None of us has reached "holiness" or has "Christ likeness" perfected. The book of Romans tells us that "all have sinned," yet there are so many of us that walk around not admitting we are one of the "all."
On the outside we appear "spiritual" and "a good Christian," but on the inside we are dying. As leaders, we are afraid to be open, transparent and vulnerable. TRUTHFUL...that's the word. We are afraid of what others might think, how our ministry might be affected, or that we might cause someone to fall. Wouldn't it be easier if we just told the truth about our spiritual condition, admitted we are sinful, prideful and rotten to the core? Isn't that what the church is for? If we could just come to church with words of encouragement, ready to pray for each other, to "bear each other's burden," not judging, just using our spiritual gifts to "edify the body," wouldn't that be a nice church to come to?
I am angry that church has become a place we come to with our "Sunday smiles," Christian clich├ęs and attitudes. I hate it when I ask someone, "How are you today?" and the response is, "Blessed, brother." HOLD IT!!! Should I ask your WIFE to tell me how you're REALLY doing? Are all your bills paid, is your marriage strong, is your house in good order??? Are you tithing, do you have any "secret sin," are you truly "walking in the Spirit?" Just wondering....because I am hurting, and I don't feel very "blessed," thank you very much. When someone asks me how I am doing, I feel like responding with, "Do you care? Because if you do, let me tell you my struggles." What if I just told you, "I've got a lot of sin in my life I am struggling with. My wife and I have been at the brink of divorce, where the hell were you during the week when I really needed you?"
If church is supposed to be about community and relationships, we are falling short, WAY short, by trying to maintain those relationships in 2 or 3 hours a week on Sunday. There are 168 hours in a week, of which I am sleeping approximately 56 of those hours. So the other 112 hours I have time for relationship building, and those hours are not being spent building relationships with my church family. No wonder we struggle. We have plenty of free time for sin to abound.
The first guy and I started meeting once a week for an hour, just to talk and encourage each other. We committed to being truthful with each other about some rather hard questions we ask each other. We committed to reading the bible daily and hold each other accountable for our bible reading, prayer time and what we devote ourselves to. Well, a second guy joined us, thank God, and once a week was not enough. We have been meeting daily to keep ourselves accountable. We commit to walking out this life as Christians just for 24 hours at a time. What a difference this has made in my walk.
So now I only have about 105 hours a week to entertain sin. Actually, I only have 23 hours a day, since I meet with these 2 guys for an hour a day, less 8 hours for sleep, so give or take, I only have about 15 hours a day to get into trouble. Since I have to work at least 8 hours, that leaves only 7, and that's time I am at home and accountable to Linda. All of a sudden my "trouble time" is getting limited. If I spend an hour reading the bible and praying, now I only have 6 hours to find trouble.
I think maybe I need to find something constructive to do with the spare 42 hours a week I have... I wonder what Linda might suggest?


Homebrewer said...

Sounds like you have found a good thing.

Be careful to love and enjoy each other more than you focus on personal righteousness. Christ already won that war for you so that you would have the opportunity to love Him and others without shame.

To be honest with each other and carrry each others burdens is honorable. I have seen some accountablity groups that were much more about rules and fucused on sin than relationship and love. Those are no fun, and I don't think they end up blessing God or the members of the group. Since you are having beer and barbeque, I assume your group is more about encouragement than rules.

I'll hoist a pint today for you and your friends.

Anne said...

I think that's great, Paul. Seeking God is always the answer...when we are filled with Him, we will lose our taste for trash. Why eat hamburger when there's all the filet mignon you can eat and more?

Roger said...

Good thoughts Pauly! I say: SHare the life of God together, our mutual accountablity to God will allow us to be "accountable" to each other. When it goes the other way around it sucks the life right out of it...