I think that at the heart of my journey out of institutional forms of church is a true desire to focus on what really matters–the heart and soul of my faith, the things that really make this engine run, so to speak. I think this desire has really set my course for many years. And as I gradually became less and less focused on the institutions surrounding Christianity, and more focused on the heart of faith, I began to see just how many times and in how many ways I’d majored on the minors–focused so much energy and placed so much importance on things that really weren’t all that important in the greater scheme of things.
What’s bad about that is that when you put all your attention on things that aren’t that important, you end up neglecting the more important things. It’s so easy get so consumed with getting everything right in the meeting, or keeping everyone happy in the community, that we forget about things like doing good to others, or building the character of Christ in ourselves, or encouraging our brothers and sisters in their own lives. Not that that stuff didn’t happen–but given the fact that all the other baggage was attached, it sometimes got lost in the shuffle.
Now that all those pressures are off, it’s like in so many ways the fog has cleared, and it’s easier to see from moment to moment what is more important–not just in the doings of church, but in the walk of faith, in general.
- Is it more important to stage a “successful” event, or is it more important that people draw closer to God within the event?
- Is it more important to be “right” (that is, to win the argument), or is it more important to live at peace?
- Is it more important to follow procedure, or is it more important to be led by the Spirit?
- Is it more important to use convincing words to describe your faith, or is it more important to demonstrate that faith through consistent action?
- Is it more important to defend your rights, or is it more important to guard your heart?
- Is it more important to busy ourselves with our preparations, or is it more important to sit at His feet? (Luke 10:38-42)
These, and just a few others, are things that are far more clear to me now that I am no longer carrying the burden of an institution on my own shoulders. I can now see that the people of the Church are a higher priority than the events and activities of the “church”, and I can make better choices with that priority in place. For example, during the entire 18 months I was helping with worship at my friends’ church plant, to the extent that I was involved in leadership decisions, I found that I consistently chose in favor of the people over the presentation–a total “180” for me from a few years ago.
I guess I’m pondering this because in the recovery process from getting flooded out last week, I’m also faced with some decisions regarding the apartment management company and what I feel they are responsible for–and to what extent I want to fight for it. I am still riled up when I feel something is unjust, or when I feel a sense of loss…but where in times past the need to protect myself and my “stuff” would utterly consume me, I have a different perspective nowadays. I realize that above all else, I need to guard my own soul, and that no fight for my “rights” is worth nursing animosity in my heart or jeopardizing my spiritual well-being. Considering that I have suffered a great deal of loss in so many ways in my life, and considering that loss is a bit of a sore spot with me–I think that’s progress. 🙂
I believe this change in perspective for me is due in part to my clearer perspective as a “deconstructed” Christian. Because my vision is no longer clouded with things that aren’t that important, I am able to see more clearly what’s more important. That’s what I think, anyway. 🙂