It’s Time for the Church to Get Out of Control
Devotional Thought for our Days
34 But Jesus said: My food is to do the will of the one who sent me, and to complete his work. 35 Do you not have a saying: Four months and then the harvest? Well, I tell you, look around you, look at the fields; already they are white, ready for harvest! John 4:34-35 (NJB)
31 O Jesus…, strengthen our souls, open out the way for us, and, above all, intoxicate us with your Love! Make us into blazing fires to kindle the earth with the heavenly fire you brought us.
The Church is not a machine, a collection of bureaucrats, of administrators, of events. This is the Church: that we are called into the family of Jesus Christ and so into a community of love with him.
The problem for this pastor and for many others of us is that we turn things around and instead of seeing church and worship as the means of nourishing our mystical union with God, we see our life in the church and in worship as our work. We subvert God’s way of nourishing our union with him by looking to self as if we sustain the union, only to grow weary in our own self-righteousness.
Knowing my undergraduate degree is in Organizational Management, and that I spent more than a decade in management before becoming a pastor, someone asked me what my favorite business model was to adapt for the church.
I think my answer surprised them, it was n off-hand joke, but fairly true.
Thriving on Chaos.
There is such a book, and an excellent one if I remember, necessary for a business that is in the midst of changes in its market and world.
But what I am talking about is that the church, at its best – is out of control. Completely out of control. Absolutely, 102.829 percent out of control.
Before all my church consultants, coaches and CEO/Herr pastor friends meltdown, let me clarify.
The church must be completely controlled by God, it must be completely wrested from our control. It is a community we are called into by God, a community that He is healing, that He is cleansing. He is doing the work, and we are but servants in this endeavor, doing what He calls us to do.
Pope Benedict noted above that the church is never a bureaucracy, it is not a machine to be managed! (Did I mention this is a quote from a future Pope) It is a community, one with broken people, one where ministering to each other can often upset our nicely manicured schedules and structures.
Dr. Webbber points out that this church is not our work. When we treat it as ours, he continues we subvert it from its norm, we change it from being the place where God embraces people, a place where they hear and recognize his voice into a highly disciplined collection of round pegs stuck in round holes and square pegs stuck into square holes and well – those octagonal folk? Well, there might be a church down the street for them.
We believe we can sustain the union, so we keep everyone busy, hoping they don’t look to clearly at the New Empire line of stoles and chausables, (or for my low church bothers – polos and denim) We end up leaving very little time for quiet intimacy with God, so that we don’t have to worry about being stir crazy when all we hear is the sound of silence.
We need a church where God so overwhelms us, we have no option but to sit and pray, catching our breath, so drained of energy that being still and knowing He is God is required, that a sabbath rest is something we begin to desire.
We need a church where the Spirit is moving, not us, (and not us pretending to hear the Spirit either!) Where God being “with us” is what we rely on, where our cries of “Lord have mercy! are not just loud and desperate, they are full of expectation and hope.
A hope we share with the world. A world that is coming, and is coming because someone else planted a seed, and not it is time to harvest….
I love St Josemaria’s prayer, and the fact that it comes from a voice many consider too conservative, to traditional, to rigid and disciplined. It is a great demonstration of a church that is thriving in a chaos, as the fire rages within us, completely out of our control.
But firmly and completely in His.
May we rejoice in our God’s presence, and may His Kingdom come and Will be done, even in our lives today. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 348-350). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.