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My Secret Life of Discipleship

16 November 2006
This article is long. Possibly too long for you to tackle it. I’ll tempt you by telling you it has sat in my “drafts” box for at least 9 months now because I’ve been somewhat fearful of sending it out, which seems silly to me today for some reason. I’ve read it to some close friends, and in a couple of lectureship classes, and have had multiple requests for copies from some of those in attendance. It is affirming to have it’s spirit resonate with a few, and it is refreshing to engage in lively but loving dialogue with those who may feel defensive. I’ll remind all readers that I love the Church of Christ, and am living my life as a member of it, loving it with all that I have, and loving the world through it. Just start reading…those who are supposed to read this mess I’m confident won’t be able to stop. I’d love your feedback…
 
I’d like to introduce you to a whole bunch of us who are members of the Church of Christ who live secret lives of discipleship totally separate and apart from our church practices.
 
We span the ranks of our churches…we are ministers and elders, deacons and “lay members”, students and college professors, teenagers and senior citizens.
 
We live and move and act within Churches of Christ, and hold dear the idea of becoming more like Christ together, to become a church that is, in actuality, ‘of Christ’.
 
We are not interested in change. We are interested in Christ, and whatever we must change in order love Him more truly, we are glad and anxious to do so.
 
We are immovably committed to the Bible. But only inasmuch as it teaches us about and moves us closer to Christ…and we believe it to be the perfect tool for doing so, a gift from God, the written Word that was preserved to lead us to the Living Word. We suffer from a growing intolerance for people who use the Bible merely to defend and maintain strict adherence to certain sets of worship practices, beliefs, or political positions. And most of us are long past satisfying our spiritual zeal by fighting with other attempting Bible-followers about who is right.
 
We are trying to find out how to pray, and our longing for prayer is intensifying. We are not motivated by duty, nor merely to “lay our requests before God”. We pray because we long for actual God-contact. And in this area, in most of our churches, we feel impossibly alone and mentorless, and oftentimes even looked at as crazy or overly-emotional. We are looking to ancient monastics and mystics and their practices, and also to other denominations, to satisfy our need to be taught…we are not creative, we are desperate.
 
We are bright and honest and dedicated, but only some of us are educated. And those of us who are rarely point it out, and more often hide from talking about it. That’s because we put very little stock in the educated merely because they are educated. We have met people who are much more devoted to the Divine Master than some who have a Masters of Divinity, and have found them more useful in our own becoming more like Christ. We are not anti-intellectual, mind you. We love smart people. But we have the innate ability to spot unspiritual smart people, and we would define them as those who run after smarts rather than Christ, and mistakenly confuse the two. We want and need smart, educated people. But educated people who expose a lack of self-awareness and humility by expecting deference from others because they know so much, we just leave them to their ivory kingdoms and sorrowfully attempt to pursue Christ’s without them.
 
We are indignant sometimes, and defensive and rude on occasion, and every now and then, we are angry. For the younger among us, it’s because we feel like we’re being bargained with…asked to ‘please stay in a movement that doesn’t work’ in exchange for job security, or hero status, or at the very least, tons and tons of gratitude and affirmation…and we sense that the strings attached are too costly. For those of us who are old enough, it stems from feeling duped in our younger years, agreeing with things that sapped us, our friends, our parents, our children, and those we tried to evangelize of the very life we said submission to our system offered. Some of us are the ones that faithfully did everything our churches asked of us, and if it asked for more we would’ve done that, but we ended up not