by Eric Muhr
More and more of my friends have expressed in recent years their disenchantment with the church. They struggle with a deep desire for authentic intimacy within a faith community. They long for simplicity. They feel as if life is not worth living without an experience of God’s presence within community. They are willing to sacrifice anything. But instead of these things, they find Christians who seem to have become wedded to American culture along with its promise of riches and relaxation for those who work hard and live well. And relationships, where they exist, seem shallow.
Please don’t get me wrong. These Christian communities are full of men and women who have spent their lives serving Christ and growing in Him. I’m part of one of these communities, and I know many here who faced similar struggles in their youth. But that was then. Life is much more comfortable now. And safe.
Besides, it won’t be very long before most of my critical friends will have found their own places of safety and security within the institution. The rest will simply drift away.
Unless . . . we finally make a change.
We live in a world where change is ubiquitous — an ever-present constant. The church must also change, adapting to the changing needs of a changing world.
But change is a threat.
For some of us, change might mean the loss of status or influence. Many of the Pharisees could not condone Jesus’ claim to divinity because it threatened their place as experts in the law and teachers of truth. Yet Jesus mocked them as blind men leading the blind.
For others, financial or political interests are intertwined with the way we practice church. The rich young ruler went away sad because he had many possessions. And Jesus shared with his disciples that it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
Still others have so identified themselves with certain ideas or the institution itself that any change at all feels like a kind of death.
Yet we must change.
I pray that God will give us courage.
I pray that God will strip us of unnecessary burdens, so we might freely enter that land he has prepared for us.
I pray that God will teach us to value our critics, help us to recognize that our continued health depends on our willingness to take advice from subversives and crap-detectors.
I pray that we will let God do all these things.