Well boys and girls, it would appear to me that our movement has finally come into its own. How do I know this? Well it is a well known fact that until you have your own group of elitist, judgemental, know it alls, you are just a pipe dream. But the emerging church has finally arrived thanks to the hard work of many wonderful men and women. We have now been blessed with a plethora of uniquely gifted helpers to make our movement complete. The ministry of criticism and the spiritual gift of finger pointing has reared its loving head. The emerging pharisees have given us fulfilment.
What am I talking about? Well how about a group of fellas that have decided they know exactly what the emerging church is, and are now going to tell us how we do or don't fit their model? Or a group that have defined what is and what is not acceptable behavior within this group? Or hows about outsiders that have arrived to explain to the world how we are wrong, have compromised, or are following another gospel?
I love these people. Do you know why? Because I am a fighter, a warrior, someone who relishes the conflict. However, in my pursuit of the life of Christ I am often confronted with the way of the Prince of Peace, and must shamefully repent of my behavior or my temptation to throw off the gloves and get down to it. But these wonderful people, well they give me the justification I need to get in a real punch up. You see, these are the only people Jesus really gave it to. Though I am sure he saved a little vitriol for those horrible cussers, and drinkers, and especially for the smokers, what is recorded in scripture is only His blasting of the pharisees.
Well here I go into my little imitation of Jesus, (though I am sure it isn't very good, He is way above me I admit quite freely)
The ministry of criticism that has so long been a strong point of us has been turned on us, both from outside and from within. And this may be a case of you reap what you sow. Well I acknowledge this, however, I might make a plea for those inside of this movement to please take a deep breath, a time of silence and meditation, and go ahead and use some incense if it makes you feel groovy, and challenge yourselves if this is really the path you want to tread. For those on the outside, well you better come packing more than a holster full of big words and systematic theologies.
The emerging church must stand on something more than just its "cool" factor, it must stand on more than the "next big thing" phenomenom, this is the truth. And we must take the critiques on all of our different expressions within it with some true self exploration and judgement. We must use the pressure to form ourselves. But we must stand against this attack from without and within with due diligence.
You pharisees that stand in judgement, let me ask you a simple question. Does your church resemble the one in acts? Does it sell its goods to care for the poor, the outcasts, the downtrodden. Does it live in community so well that the world is attracted not to its polish, coolness, or professionalism, but because of its reckless abandoning of the worlds values and its reckless love for one another? Do those in your communities pick up their crosses daily, and leaving "all" else follow Jesus with a subversive radicalness that is both scares and excites you? YOU WHO CRITIQUE OUR FAITH, SHOW ME THE FAITH OF YOUR OWN BY YOUR ACTIONS, as a perfect book once said. This same book that you claim to love so dearly says, "not the hearers of the word are justified but the doers" I for one cannot say I have attained this, but neither can anyone else I know, so get off your high horse and go love the poor, make the outcasts your family, sell all you have and follow Jesus, and then having removed that plank in your eye, I will trust you to help me with my considerable short comings.
What am I talking about? Well here are some examples, the names have not been included to protect the guilty:
A huge Gen X church leader exclaimed, "you emerging church people go on and on about your small groups, well I have 1,200 people meeting at my church every Sunday, when you can show me that I'll listen." Well listen to this jackass, the Catholic church down the street has ten times as many, does that make them more right then you? Or the Mosque around the corner? Or the mormon church down the street? Or the fundementalist church up the road?
Another "emerging church guru" telling a member of a church I am associated with that they shouldn't go to Red because its disorganized and you can't have church like that. Well guess what my elitist brother, you can have church any way you please as long as it results in communites growing closer to each other, closer to God, and showing the truth of God to those around them.
Or another ponificator of emerging thought and profiteer of the movement, telling the church that I was a part of and helped to start that they were illegitimate, as they were dressed too much the same, and were too cool!!! So in other words a group that had inculturated themselves in the rave culture, were having free breakfasts for ravers that were coming off of drugs. Were hosting dance parties that also did art therapy sessions. And were actively leading people to faith from withing that group were illegitimate because they looked like the people they were ministering too.
Or hows about the current trend to take minor points of this group and that group, making them major points and using that to dismiss the entire movement. Using caricatures to show the lack of depth or truth in the movement. Once again I must ask, what is the point of our faith? To follow Jesus as hard as we can? Or is it to give intelectual agreement to a set of rules and regulations that some scholars signed off on in their ivory towers? I am not a person of the book, I am not a theologian, I am a follower of the living God, and a member of His alive and vibrant family. When those of us called to discover the joy of following after God, without the trappings of years and years of power corrupted, intelectually subverted, sacredized extras and additions, we come to a joy, a freedom and a creativity that spurs us on in our following of Christ. This seems to somehow irk the establishment, well I am all for that!!! It is about time we start being the radical, grass roots, subversive, countercultural movement that was started by the One we call Lord and Savior.
If these so called leaders want to take shots at us, well I reckon it is just the smallest splinter on the cross I am called to carry. But atleast I don't feel compelled to be silent about it. But, I'll probably get chewed out for not being nice.