Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, January 08, 2007

building metaphors...

We're in the midst of expanding the facilities here at Bethany, and so when I look out my window, I see a bunch of grown up boys pushing dirt around a big hole in the ground. It's my childhood Tonka Truck dreams come true!

What I find interesting though is that, of the one or two thousand people who will eventually use this new building, only perhaps three people really understand what's going on right as this hole takes shape, as this dirt gets moved, as gravel arrives in dump trucks. The rest of us have this immense faith in the workers, the checks and balances of the permitting and inspection system, and the competance of those few in the congregation who do know. We trust that all this digging is needful.

Peter didn't have the same confidence in Christ. When Christ spoke of the necessity of the cross, Peter pulled Him aside and gave Him a swift rebuke. Surely such messy digging isn't needed! Surely there's a way this can be accomplished without all the rigors and sufferings of which you speak. Jesus observed that, in fact, there's no way to avoid this messiness.

Apparently Peter learned the lesson well because he passes the same thing on to the next generation. The foundation work, the digging around, the exposure of toxic substances, are all needed work if the our lives are to become places of blessing and safety, and dwelling places of God's life, as is our calling.

What is this foundation work? In my own case, it's included deep exposure of my motivations for being in ministry, and my resistance to my call. It's also included the discovery that I'm far better at initiating than maintaining, which has come with the realization that I have far to go as I seek to grow in this area. Thus when God calls me to maintain something, whether it's the windows on my house (in order that they might not leak on those rare days when it rains), or relationships, my wrestling with such responsibilities is 'foundation work'. The soil continues to be broken up. Things continue to be exposed.

Of course the analogy breaks down, because Christ's building process isn't as linear as a physical project. The temple and the foundation are being built at the same time. We're doing ministry, even as our foundations are being exposed in their weakness. This is an important truth because without it, it's tempting to disengage from service, waiting until the foundation is done.

It's never done. There's always more with which to deal - more exposure - more digging. But thanks be to God - He will move heaven and earth to shape us into people of blessing. And when the digging exposes our vulnerability, we can give thanks that the needed work is being done.


At 8/1/07 16:19, Blogger Zac Niles said...

Hey Richard,

This is Zac from Sky Ranch and I just wanted to tell you thanks again for coming out. The challenging to pursue fruit from a more holistic approach has changed my prayer life and pursuit of God. Also I have read your blog since the first time you came out and it really is a blessing to me. I love the word picture of destruction to rebuild some more beautiful and praise be to God that he lets us serve him as we are continually rebuilt.

At 13/1/07 20:52, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Richard,

I like the idea of remembering that we can build upon a foundation even while creating the foundation itself. It's easy for me, at least, to just get stuck on the foundation.

But also, I clicked on "Tonka Truck" and was sad to see it says, "Built for Boyhood" as if little girls don't like getting muddy and scooping and playing with trucks as well! What year is this again?!


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