Friday, May 13, 2005

Too Deep For Friday

One of the discussion topics last evening was this: "The Law was never intended as a change agent, but simply to make us aware of the need for change" (something like that; I'm horribly paraphrasing from a book I haven't read). Meanwhile, I'm reading another book that revolves around the need to let go of Linearity: the idea that if I do A B C in the right order and proper intentionality, then D will necessarily follow every time.
"I've done all the right things, said the right things. I've been praying, studying my Bible, going to church every time the doors open. I'm involved in children's ministry, in small groups, in the hospitality committee. I've been doing more than most people, and I still can't get this to work. Why do I keep falling flat on my face, Lord? What do You want me to do? What do I need to do now to get out of this jumbled mess?"
There is so much pressure to do the right thing, to believe the right thing, to see the right outcomes. If someone has problems, we''ll ask how his prayer life is, is he praying like he knows he should; we'll ask her what she expected, tell her what she needs to do since it was preached in last week's sermon. Whatever is wrong can be made right by doing this or that or the other thing, or by doing them more effectively, more patiently, more holy-ly. We justify ourselves and our actions based on outcomes, or we discipline ourselves to "do better from now on" because what we've done hasn't led to the desired result. We pressure ourselves unwittingly, and we become part of the problem instead of finding a better solution.

But the scriptures can't be reduced to a set of rules, or even a set of paradigms that will work to make your world a better place. We want to be legalistic - we want to judge others based on what they've done, and we want to look back on our own lives to see what we've done, how it's turned out, what's coming next, all happy and neat and tidy. This happens in the church, from the pulpits, in the small groups, in the children's ministry - anywhere we can point to "do this and good things will happen", there's a spot where this linearity of legalism is thriving.

What do we "do" with that?


Anonymous erica said...

That quote is making my day. . .

13/5/05 5:21 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

hi, erica - which one? all of this is messing with me today ;)

13/5/05 5:39 PM  
Blogger Duncan said...

Hey Rick. What's the book you're reading on letting go of linearity?

I hang on to the phrase, "There's nothing I can do that will make God love me more, and nothing I can do that will make God love me less". Comes out of the heart of Romans 8.

I'm wondering if some of our focus on doing the right thing is based on our bent need to work out who is 'in' and who is 'out'. Like the concern over at Marla's blog at the moment over who is associating with whom in the Emerging Church movement. I appreciated your comment there BTW.

13/5/05 5:56 PM  
Blogger Rick said...

it's THE PRESSURE'S OFF by larry crabb - and he's being all linear about dealing with linearity. very confusing at this point in the book :)

13/5/05 6:22 PM  

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