Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Be the Church

Marla Taviano, Jen Hatmaker, and many others all in one place is a beautiful thing! This is the last week of the 7 read-along, it is also the week we get roped into Jen Hatmaker's next crazy adventure. I really like that Jen Hatmaker lady, like if we didn't have the whole sisters in Christ thing going for us I think I might be a little creepy. Thankfully we're both part of the Bride, so I can get all excited about her being my sister without it being too weird. That and I have a soft spot in my heart for Texans, so it's all good.

So this week we are invited to collect our thoughts about 7. The main thought I have had throughout the whole read-along is summed up rather nicely by Jen in the Conclusion of her book:
Our life looks like it does because we are the Hatmakers, and God is dealing with us the way He's dealing with us. We have history and sin issues and circumstances and geography that God takes into account as He stakes our place in His kingdom.
You have an entirely different set of factors. I have no idea what this might look like in your life, nor do I want that job. Your story is God's to write, not mine. Some of us are going to live in the suburbs, others downtown. I'm going to garden; you're going to take the subway. We're adopting, you're redistributing, they're downsizing. I use words, you use a hammer. There isn't a list here. There is no stencil we can all trace into our lives in perfect unison. (p. 218)
The life of the Johnson clan on this beautiful Earth will not look like the Hatmakers, or the Tavianos, or any family in our church. We are not made to look like each other, we are made to look Christ, to reflect the glory of God, to shine forth justice in a broken world.

The problem is our sin issues, mine and yours, can lead us to be distracted from this truth. We either cling to the letter of the law (or seeming formula of good books) to the point of becoming extra-Biblical in our living out of life, or we become so dead set of nonconformity that we refuse to hear wise counsel. We see these trends throughout the Bible, God continually laying down the law and people continually distorting it, but we also see these trends in our own hearts if we are honest. Read through the first couple chapters of Romans and you will see both sides addressed; Jews and Romans being opposing archetypes of the church. Whether you want to admit it or not, you are one of them.

So my final thoughts on 7, and input for the future 7 study have to do with those 2 groups, the law-abiders and the non-conformists.

To the law-abiders:

Chill out! This is not a competition to see who can fast the best, or the most. This book was not written as a new covenant Mishnah by which only those who adhere most closely to 7 concept will be made holy. It is not a formula unto salvation. The Hatmakers are not more beloved by God because they have a garden. Take it for what it is: the wise, quirky works of a fellow sojourner. This book should cause you to think, which is good, but it should not cause you to write a whole new handbook of conduct for your life.

The Bible is the authority, within it is all things that pertain to your life and godliness. Jen Hatmaker, David Platt, Francis Chan, John Piper, John MacArthur, Mark Driscoll, Ryan Kelly, insert-favorite-author-teacher-whatever-name-here WILL NOT SAVE YOU. There is only one mediator between God and man, the God/man Christ Jesus. There is only one law giver, the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and our Father. There is only one who reveals to our hearts the words of life, the Holy Spirit. I love you law-abiders, I get you. I like reading Leviticus, that's how weird I am. But seriously, don't read this book if you will lose sight of God. Follow hard after Christ.

To the non-conformists:

Grow up! You have not been released from bondage to be lazy. The shackles of sin have been broken so that you can be doing, loving, walking in Christ. This book may be the kick in the pants you need to realize your "freedom" is really re-bondage. Yes you are set free, but with purpose. As fun as it sounds to just live however I want, using the freedom of salvation as an excuse, I need to live according to the law of loving God most of all and loving my neighbors as myself. This love is not a passive thing, it is a daily walking in Christ, for the glory of the Father, by the power of the Spirit. I can be the most spiritually free person on the planet, but if I don't have that kind of love then I have nothing. And neither do you.

The Bible has a lot about fighting, wrestling, racing, building, pressing on. Jesus didn't say, take off your yoke and lay down, he said take the yoke of the gospel upon yourself. There is work in the kingdom of God, but is the good light work of setting captives free by bringing the good news. Use your hands, use your feet, use your heart. You were made for love and good works. Look at the imperfect lives of those living that out and find encouragement. Feel the stirring in your heart for purpose, and then run with it. I love you non-confromists, I get you. I stick out like a sore thumb in my community of believers. Read this book, and ask God what he wants you to glean from it.

To all of us on both ends of the spectrum:

Let us join forces for the sake of the King! Let us lay down our petty differences, and hold fast to the Author of our faith. Let us hold hands and hearts with our fellow body members, remembering always that Christ is the head. Let us truly do the hard work of justice. Let us love the sweet pouring out of mercy. Let us walk humbly with our God. Let us be the church.


  1. i think i might be a non-conforming law abider. not sure how that happens. ;)

    makes me sad to think of all we could get done if we had a sense of unity amongst believers.

  2. So true! We are not meant to look like others, we are meant to look like ourselves. I have lost some friendships over this. Could be a post in itself huh?