Wow! We just got back from a conference that was a Vineyard sponsored event. Off the charts good...and I do not even like conferences...Barb makes me go! This was different. I knew much prayer and hard work had gone into this conference. There was anticipation that God would do amazing things here..power stuff...and reconciliation stuff. I knew the teams heart was to invite the Holy Spirit back to the center of the movement...not off to the side...out of the picture. He has been kind of an after thought...oh if you asked we could say He was right front and center...but really He was treated like the relative you like but knew he might offend others. Some will accuse me of longing for the “good old days” and that could be true...they were fun. I suspect it is more wanting to be a part of the “good new days.”
I am not after “manifestations” either...I mean I never fall down, shake or quake. I cry some...but as people of His presence I know when He is moving. I do want Him to move among us...I do think being cool is on its way out...and being real is coming back to the forefront...authentic. I have been reminded of a couple of things I heard or read John Wimber say. One was, “Can I have my Church back?” which is quite sobering. Another was, “I have seen your ministry...would you like to see mine?” Both of these statements moved John powerfully...as they would any leader...or should. I suspect for every leader this sounds and looks differently...plays out different...but they are still valid questions.
A few months ago I wrote blog kind of calling my tribe on the carpet for drifting away from the “main and plain” of scripture. I was critical of our new leadership for what they put out as “talking points” but they were not talking points. They wrote a clarification on where we stood on the LGBT subject...and in my boldness I criticized them...and I was wrong. Really wrong. I have had friends reach out to me and tell me how they had appreciated the stance our leaders took and I had to sit back and rethink my statements..and I came to this conclusion...I was wrong. I hate being wrong...well not really hate...I am wrong enough I know what I need to do when it happens. Admit it...and apologize. I do apologize to our leaders who have worked hard to form a biblical stance on a very politically hot subject. They do so knowing they will be criticized more than thanked...accused of being unloving and legalistic...of not having the heart of Jesus on this matter. They did it...they are still doing it. So I want to take a moment and say thanks...now I know on this small blog it won’t make a huge splash...and most of them won’t even know I said it...I will. Maybe 30 or so others.
I am sad that we are even having this kind of discussion at this early juncture of our existence. I think our National leaders feel that sadness also...why are we here? I, and this is my own thought, suspect that when we moved from being a presence driven movement to a more acceptable, calmer, brainy movement...it was only a matter of time. We had moved away from a stance of “come Holy Spirit” to one of...I better stop. I really do not want to be critical...I love my tribe...and I only want the best.
I suspect my disappointment from the letter our leaders sent out was I was looking for a more defined statement of “those who don’t believe like this are out!” Fortunately our leaders are a bit more gracious than that...but still clear enough that we can know where we stand on this touchy subject. A friend of mine in town led his church out of the ELCA (Lutheran) denomination after the denomination decided to move away from scripture and to become more accepting. What he would tell his church family is,”The denomination changed, we did not.” I am watching a collision about to happen and my advice to the leaders who have changed their mind concerning the LGBT question, “You changed, we did not.”
Bonhoeffer wrote this, “Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God's word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity." For the last 15 years I have heard the cry to make ourselves and the scripture relevant...I get it...but what do we sacrifice at the altar of relevance? I was listening to Tim Keller recently on a podcast and he said this concerning the call of Jesus to us. He said, “When you run into the real Jesus and the real gospel it shocks us in two ways. It demands more than you thought and it offers more than you thought.” We live in a time where we see no demand from Jesus...we say yes...pray the prayer...live the way we want to. No demands...and so it does not offer much either.
Keller points out the story of the rich young ruler...give it all up and start over. We think well that is one story. How about Nicodemus...you must be born again...what? How could that happen? Isn’t it the same story? Give up what you think is working for you...because it is not working...and come to me. How did I get here from there? To be relevant today...we sacrifice the amazing message of Jesus and what He offers...and demands. Why do we desire to make this life safe for people? Why do we bow at the altar of relevancy or being culturally current? Shouldn’t we of all people know to Whom we bow? Are we in such a difficult time with culture that God is overwhelmed?
I am grateful for our National Director...and I pray for him...and the board. I hope as a movement we can get back to the main and the plain of scripture. I hope we rediscover Wimber’s favorite prayer...well right after “HELP!” Come Holy Spirit...come Holy Spirit.