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April 11, 2017

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Chuck Waterman

I have to disagree with a thought I had on reading the end of your comment, Ms./Mr. Mitchell. You wrote that it's "more fun" to be in the Way. If the Way is used to refer to being part of institutional forms of Christ-following, I (and many others) have found that the overall experience is sincerely *not* fun. If "the Way" refers to being in *regular gathering with other believers* in or outside of institutional gatherings, then I heartily agree that *that* is more fun (life-giving, interesting, joyful, playful).

Edward Hara

Ray Sutton, in his book on covenant, THAT YOU MAY PROSPER, has said that unless there is visible authority on earth, God then has no authority on earth. One of the five working principles of covenant is that of hierarchy. I don't think you are necessarily saying that hierarchy is a bad thing, but rather than it can be misused.

If this is the case, as one who myself has been rather roundly abused by hierarchical leaderships of several various types, I would say a fervent (and perhaps Evangelical sounding) AMEN! My latest abuse comes from the very people who are supposed to be my spiritual fathers and guides - the Church.

You have given me some food for thought. I am no fan of anarchy, but I wonder if we should just automatically listen to every hierarchical voice that comes along, just because they claim that they "represent God" in all that they say, declare, and do. I seem to remember Jesus teaching something about knowing a tree by its fruit rather than by what it appears to be - a good tree bearing good fruit and a bad tree bearing bad fruit. As such, the church I am currently affiliated with is giving me considerable pause for reflection after not only an examination of its fruit, but a deep taste which has produced considerable bitterness on my tongue.

Bev Mitchell

As you say Brad, hard but necessary questions. There is some measure of peace in the ‘freedom’ closet - significant attenuation of mundane annoyances come to mind as a trivial example. On the other side, moving onto the ‘full service’ highway has many potholes, and it is likely to delay any real understanding of patience. Christ struggled mightily with this paradox of the need to be out there (and in there) and the need for quiet, and yes, patience.

How long should one wait to hear the voice, to see the direction that the Spirit wants one to take? Is there any argument at all for starting into a way that seems right to the wannabe faithful follower, only to discover sometime later that the oh so quiet Spirit was pointing in another direction - perhaps not from the beginning but certainly now.

Is there an argument for ‘marking time’? As you say, wandering in the wilderness for 40 years does nothing to help maintain what we already have, however wounded and inadequate it may be. There are probably times when just trying to maintain what we have already is what the Spirit says we must do. There is, after all, a season for all things.

However, this does not seem like a time for mere maintenance - far from it. Yet, the deconstruction that is necessary takes its toll. The baby and bathwater metaphor is, as always, important. And, reconstruction needs to be ever so carefully done so as to avoid more doctrinaire set-pieces.

Perhaps, acknowledging all these issues, thinking about them, is the central part of what is needed. Also, acknowledgement that there are those within the ’system’ as well as those without who very definitely need each other. We need to constantly check each other’s work, carry each other’s loads and perhaps even put on each other’s shoes from time to time.

In the end, it’s all about getting better at discerning what the Spirit wants at each time and place before moving forward. But, there will likely be distinctly different imperatives at different times and places until it all finally comes together at Christ’s return. Even then, in a renewed heaven and earth, I hope we will still have lots of learning, and hopefully advanced Spirit following, to get right.

Bottom line - it’s a lot better, and more fun, to be in the Way, even when we bump into things from time to time, and especially when our patience is tested. This is because we believe that the Spirit who leads this whole thing, in Christ’s name, is always on the job. Together, we have reasons to hope that we can become better at seeing, hearing and following.

Jay

I have heard Richard Rohr say, there is a time to detox, and then a time to rebuild.

Dave Robinson

Brad, you gently,and with compassion,press on some sensitive nerves... Thank you.

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