Christianity, Faith, Family, Gratitude, Marriage, Neighbors, Prayer, Recovery, Relationships, Simplicity, Trust, Uncategorized, Writing

Going Underground

I feel a little bit like Garrison Keillor sending you news from Lake Wobegone when I tell you about the porch, but I don’t think I’ll stop. I enjoy sharing the peace I find there. I hope it’s not too much information, but it’s my porch, my wandering thoughts, and my blog so here goes…

It’s back to being unseasonably warm here on the porch. We were blessed by a decent rain and cooler temperatures for a couple of days, but the heat has returned with a vengeance and it looks like the first full day of summer will top out at 100 degrees. Our dogs run outsider to bark at passers-by and then run back to lay down in front of the air conditioner vents. Even the squirrels seem to have slowed down with the heat…

Despite the warm morning, I sent quite a while with my lovely wife, discussing the comings and goings of the day. She tends to wake up before I do, which is early, and I usually turn on the news whilst going through my morning routine. It provides fodder for our coffee time on the porch, though some mornings we say nothing at all other than ‘good morning’. I never imagined I’d be so comfortable sitting with someone in complete silence, simply enjoying one another’s presence.

I’ve become a voracious reader since I started Thoughts From the Porch. I’ve encountered a fantastic community of other writers who share their thoughts and feelings, and in turn stir my own thinking. For that I’m truly grateful. One of the benefits of growing older is that I can pull books that I’ve already read a couple of times from my home library and re-read them like they are brand new (or almost brand new as I haven’t yet reached that stage of dementia…). One of my favorite writers is Brennan Manning. I’ve mentioned The Ragamuffin Gospel before, but he writes of deep spiritual insights in each of his books. I guess one can never cease writing of the love and grace of the Master…

One of his ideas kept ringing through my head this morning: the idea that perhaps the church should go underground once again. In the early days of Christianity there were no church buildings, only the occasional local synagogue and temples to the various gods worshipped by the Greco-Roman world. Early followers of Christ worshipped in various homes, often starting and ending their days together in prayer and worship. They’d then go about their day, usually along a path that often brought them in conflict with the rest of the culture.

There was something that identified them as ‘different’. I don’t think it was the same pious, self-righteousness that people tend to think of when they think of the ‘church’ today. I think it had more to do with the fact they followed a different Lord than the rest of the Empire. While the Roman Empire declared Caesar to be the ‘Son of God’, these people followed a different king. Their King offered a new commandment, one strange enough to the people around them to identify them as followers of Jesus.

Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for one another.” (John 14.34-35 The Message). Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t time to ‘go underground’ again, to meet quietly somewhere so that folks don’t identify Jesus followers with a building or a denomination. Rather, Christians would by identified by how they love one another. I kind of take Jesus at His word and that’s how I’d like to be known.

Sharing one’s faith is done by action and not by words. Dad used to tell me that words mean nothing until they’re put into action – “talking the talk instead of walking the walk”. Maybe that’s why churches receive such a bad rap sometimes – words and actions don’t always match up. I’m not sure I want to be identified with them…

Nobody is perfect. I get it. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and there are more times than not that my words don’t match up to my actions. Just ask my wife, my children or anyone who knows me (thank goodness the grandkids are still young enough to think I am…). I’m just another one of the Rabbi’s disciples and I still have a lot to learn. Maybe it is time to go underground, to become identifiable by how I love one others, instead of being associated with a building or self-righteous, often condemning view of non-Christians. I can’t help but think that it would either invite persecution for being ‘different’ or it would invite conversation about the Good News. I don’t know. Think about it. It’s just a thought…

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