Thursday, January 17, 2008

Refined Sugar

Today I met with a man who hasn't seriously considered being part of Missio Lux, but is feeling an intense restlessness that is beginning to make him rethink how he lives his life. One of his barriers to participating with Missio Lux is the question of where he will get his feeding, his spiritual nurture. But, as he has been involved in a community for the last year; he is beginning to see how much more satisfying it is to discover God's teaching through exploration and discussion with others. He is seeing his boys become great friends with the children of the other couples. He realized that he would call one of those families to help him if his car got stuck, but not anyone at his church. He recognizes his desire to take his children on a mission trip so they understand that much of the world lives very differently than on the Eastside of Seattle.

As he processed all this, he made a very interesting observation: "It feels like when I go to church, I get my 'feeding' for the week, I leave and by the time I go home, the feel good feeling is gone. I've forgotten what the sermon is and I am ready to live the next 6 1/2 days of my week. It feels like the church is refined sugar."

How would you respond to his comments?


alex said...

we continue to go to a dried up well and expect to find water unfortunetly the spring has dried up. we must venture out of the city to a new land and find water for our family.

Laurie said...

I love the analogy of refined sugar. This man is certainly not alone, and yet it is so true that in community we can learn more about God and lean on each other while growing together. Besides it is also a lot of fun!

This is an interesting experience I thought I would share (actually Tamara asked me to - surprised?): Last week for the Missio Lux build team I made a run to CostCo for our continental breakfast and snack. I kept our family items carefully separated from the Missio Lux things and the cashier ran up two totals for me so that I could be reimbursed. After the build team meeting there was so much food left over that our family went home with a lot of food, so when Tamara asked me for my reciepts I told her that we would just cover it.

Today I was out shopping and buying quite a bit for our family. When I got up to the cashier, someone offered me a 30% off your entire purchase coupon. The amount I saved was the same amount as my Missio Lux CostCo reciept. God is so good.

Anonymous said...

I sit in Open Share groups in Celebrate Recovery, where sharing is optional, but usually people do state their names and what brings them to the group. A woman shares a struggle in her life, after many weeks of silent listening. I am blessed by this woman, this child who God loves so dearly, share so vulnerably and tenderly and am stirred with a desire to know her more deeply. I give thanks to God for giving her courage, and for allowing me to see her humanity. This is the church at its best.

Sal said...

Church is so much more more than Sunday morning and God is challenging Dan and I to reach out and truly embrace the people God misses most. We have become friends with some people who live a bit differently than we do. This new friendship has taken us out of our comfort zone and disrupted our family routine. At times, this has made the kids uncomfortable and opened up opportunity for great conversation. So I ask myself, "Why does this make us uncomfortable?" The answer is usually rooted in pride and selfishness and I am reminded of my own sinfulness once again. Our children need to learn what it means to be "the church" in the world - they need to see that living for Jesus can be messy but that it brings great rewards. We are excited about this paradigm shift and have asked our new friends to join us!

Curtis said...

The analogy of refined sugar or processed food helps me to think about the difference between churchianity and Christianity. I feel the need to qualify this by saying that in the following there is not intended to be any comment about one type of church verses another; but rather a comment about the behavior of those of us who come together to be the church. The behavior that leads to unsalty results can arise in any type of church.

The food that so many of us have allowed to become a major part of our diet has been prepared, processed, and packaged so that we can zap it in the microwave or flush it in the toaster, wolf it down, and get back to our busy lives. It seems to fulfill its purpose; it tastes okay and it satisfies the hunger. Unfortunately, enjoying good tastes and textures and being filled up is useless if the food is not nutritious and does not promote health. The processing that our food is subjected to often leaves very little of the food behind. What is listed in the ingredients on the side of the colorfully packaged food cannot even be pronounced let alone recognized as a plant or animal from which we hope that it may have originated.

The same thing can happen when we try to squeeze our relationship with God into a sixty minute Sunday worship service and we limit our ministry to only activities that enable the church to serve the churched. The worship can feel good, the message can teach and challenge, the handshake of greeting can be warm and genuine. It can all feel satisfying. But soon after the car clears the church parking lot we feel the spiritual high begin to crash into the sluggish status quo spirituality of the week before. Church activities that are inward facing ministries are important because so many of us who are church goers need to be saved, healed, and equipped. But, once we are equipped, most of us should be sent outside the doors of the church to do Kingdom work.

Tamara Buchan said...

HI Curtis,

Thank you for your reflections on the refined sugar comment. I see you walking away from churchianity to the real thing.