I'm dealing so much this week with all my church baggage. I don't want to debate any topics right now, I just want to communicate what I'm feeling. I don't want to accuse, condemn, judge, point out or prophesy against, I just want to express what I'm feeling. The combination of 2 things for me this week, "Spiritual Life Emphasis Week" here at the school I work and the release of "The Passion" film. I'm struggling with my own cynicism.
http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2004-02-24-passion_x.htm - here's a beautiful link to the merchandising for "The Passion" film. If its not enough that we can't just let the film be a film, if its compelling then let it speak . . . but of course let's try some marketing ploys. Let's sell trinkets of a horrific death and maybe a board game for my kids. The christian sub-culture is ruining this movie for me with its hype. I am going tonight with the Fight Club boyz but I admitt that I'm not that excited about it. I obviously have strong feelings about Jesus of Nazareth who became the Christ, but I'm not sure I resonate with the Jesus sold by evangelicalism.
That leads me to my next point. We have "Spiritual Life Emphasis Week" this week and the whole premise is just so foreign to the way I understand the Kingdom now. It basically is 5 days of intentional time of worship, drama, teaching and altar prayer which I struggle with why I'm so cynical of it. But it seems so evident that the message all the time in these meetings and the thousands of its sort I've been to in my lifetime is that the great hope is to "try harder". Seek after God more, pray more, read Scripture more, be more hungry for God, find more gumption within you, strain ahead, be restless, cry out, repent, mean it this time, get serious, try, try, try, try, try harder.
My conclusion is that the end conclusion of the system known as evangelicalism is to "try harder" and frankly this is not helpful to me.
What I struggle with is that I am completely convinced that the ancient spiritual disciplines of prayer, Scripture meditation, solitude, community, sacrament and worship are absolutely necessary for experiencing the Kingdom of God and that they definitely require great effort and attention on my part. So what's the difference? Maybe it has more to do with the source of the effort. When I try harder in evangelicalism, its all about me and my resources. When I rest in solitude, connect with the living Christ I find that the spiritual disciplines are a grace that he breathes within me and carries me on. So the source of the effort is God himself and not my gumption.
I also disagree vehemently with this longing/striving towards the future. That the answer for us is yet "out there", the magic pill will get me there. To me, yearning for something more and holding God hostage for it is just about sacrilege. God is here amongst us, all around us. His Kingdom invaded this world through the life and ministry of Christ and he left the Holy Spirit to continue its work. He is here, now. The Kingdom is now, at this moment, not the next one. Not resting in God now, receiving the graces he has given us but demanding for more is like biting the hand that feeds us. If we're not experiencing the Kingdom we need to face the demons of silence and just rest, quiet the soul, center oneself with the core of Christ within you, this is a disciplined approach. The answer is not in the next thing, it is in the thing that is here now. It seems that even though Christ is here and has demonstrated numerous wonders and acts around us, we still demand for him to come off the cross, fly around and prove his deity again. The problem is not him, its us. He doesn't move, we do. I think sometimes the best discipline that we can utilize to experience the Kingdom is not to strive ahead but to sit still. Seek soul quiet and see if his graces fill you.
Stop and notice the Kingdom around you today.