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20 Resolutions I’m Making for the Church (and Myself)

Dear Church,

You and I have had a codependent relationship for a while, but I don’t blame you. I’ve used you to meet my selfish needs just as often as you’ve failed me.

While others may talk about breaking it off with you, I refuse to. Despite the mutually destructive dance we often find ourselves in, I know in my gut that you need me. And as irrational as I occasionally find you, it’s through our relationship that I’ve come to know and love Jesus.

I can’t control your behavior. So I’m going to focus on changing my own as well as setting boundaries that, in the end, will benefit us both.

Here are 20 changes I’m making for us:

1. I will not confuse discernment and judgment. I refuse to devalue anyone based on my convictions or preferences.

2. I will not shy away from being the dissenting voice in order to keep the peace. Majority opinion is not necessarily right opinion, and I won’t be shamed into silence.

3. I will not meddle in the lives of others where there is no relationship and invitation.

4. I will not focus on outward behavior over inward transformation—in myself or others.

5. I will not make conformity, theological or otherwise, a prerequisite for community.

6. I will not treat people as stereotypes.

7. I will not confuse forgiveness and trust.

8. I will not shy away from difficult questions or apologize for my doubts.

9. I will not cultivate a theology that ignores the experience of Christians around the world.

10. I will not get embroiled in arguments that reduce complexities into simple black and white issues.

11. I will not serve or do good for recognition. Whenever possible, I will practice spiritual and benevolent behavior in secret.

12. I will not demand that Scripture conforms to the theological framework I’ve already accepted.

13. I will not succumb to a treadmill of Christian perfectionism, or expect others to.

14. I will not demand that the culture around me conforms to my ideals.

15. I will not idealize the past or fear the future.

16. I will not behave as if truth only exists in my denominational or interpretive cul-de-sac.

17. I will not penalize others for being honest or transparent.

18. I will not promote the idea that Christian community exists for the civilized and dignified.

19. I will not conflate Christianity and nationalism.

20. I will not exalt any theological principle or duty above love.

We both need to quit thinking about our own needs and what’s going to place us in the best possible light and social position. The sorts of people who were attracted to Jesus do not feel safe with the church—and that’s on us.

Love is PhD-level Christianity, and it starts with our relationship. In fact, the way we treat each other is going to reinforce or contradict the validity of our beliefs, and affect whether or not others feel safe with us. So I am laying down my arms. I am calling a truce.

But when it comes to areas where your aims or expectations conflict with these 20 convictions, I will not lie down, I will not be quiet, and I will not concede—for my sake, for your sake, for their sake.

Now that I’ve begun to define these guiding principles for myself, I feel free to be less heavy-handed and demanding with you.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. froginparis #

    Again, we find ourselves on the same page. I’ve purposed to live these rules for the last 20 years. Some seasons were better than others, but grace is progress not perfection.

    I still struggle with the forgive/trust and open to restitution/reconciliation thing. Just can’t find the boundaries on that one

    May 1, 2014
  2. Bravo! I particularly like Resolution No. 4. It does strike me that so many Christians are more obsessed with external behavior and projecting certainty over dealing with inward doubts and changes. Glad someone finally helped me put that concern into words.

    May 1, 2014
    • I actually stole that one from Jesus’ admonition to the Pharisees who worry about cleaning the outside of the cup and ignore the inside.

      May 1, 2014
  3. Becky #

    I’m new here. This is outstanding. Thank you!!!

    May 1, 2014
  4. lettersfromascribe #

    Love is PhD level Christianity. Can I keep that?
    I promise to share it as often as I can and live it in the best way I can.
    And here I was in Kenya, thinking I was crazy for wrestling with the church, leaving it and crawling back.
    Clearly, there is nothing new in the sun.
    I love this post. Keep going, keep the faith.

    June 30, 2014
  5. Steve Shea #

    On the spectrum of what belief is I think that the younger generation is asking very good questions. My generation asked similar questions that unsettled the elders of the day. We accepted things that the elders of the day thought were really radical. Things like using instruments in worship or raising your hands in worship. Right now there is this awaking going on among the younger Christians that the difference between witchcraft and moves of the Spirit is more about the placement of your heart before God than a clear boundary. Yet, there is also this testing of is sin really sin? Dangerous ground that is being treaded.

    Each generation MUST seek God anew. Each generation is going to discover God anew. Each generation is going to free the Spirit to work in one way while boxing Him in in another way. God says to value your elders. There is a reason for this. They have lived life. They see things the young does not. Yet, they are bounded by the boxes they have created and put God in. The young sees those boxes and hates them. I was there when I was young. Now I have the boxes and the young sees them and hates them. I see my own boxes and I hate them too. I just found this very insightful quote of a man who has departed this life:

    “The depravity of man is at once the most empirically verifiable reality but at the same time the most intellectually resisted fact.”
    — Malcolm Muggeridge

    August 27, 2014

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