We Make the Road by Walking by Brian D. McLaren
Weekly Discussion – Chapters 45 and 46
Can I be honest?
This past week’s chapter (45) and this week’s chapter (46) spoke to me in completely opposite ways.
The first I found myself fighting and wanting to close the book, and read something else. But I forced myself to keep reading, even as my stomach churned and I shifted uncomfortably. Reading it was like that uncomfortable impatience that settles over you in the waiting room at the dental office — you just want it to be over already.
I read Chapter 46 right on the heels of it, and this time it stopped me, my breathing slowed down, and I began to listen.
Why did Chapter 45, have such an effect on me? It was definitely not the author. I have really enjoyed McLaren’s work so far, and I appreciate that he gives me just enough to think about and ponder without being sanctimonious or long-winded about it. No, it is me and the reality of where my Faith is at these days.
Chapter 45 discusses the doctrine of the Trinity, and how it represents diversity and inclusivity within the character and being of God. Two ideas which I love, and yet to be really frank just saying the word Trinity sends my mind down doctrinal trails that I don’t quite know what to think about anymore.
I used to only think of God in this patriarchal, old-male Father figure on a throne, with a very-man like Jesus for a son sitting next to him, and the Holy spirit was more like a voice — their voice communicating to my mind and heart — but even so it was all still very much through a male lens.
Now I honestly don’t quite know what to think. One side of me understands it all perfectly, having had the Creed and all of my protestant, Christian, evangelical tendrils of doctrine firmly planted and replanted for years. The other sides to me — the skeptic, the seeker, the questioner, the hesitant, the part seeking to just be real for once rather than rehearsed and all put together…. those are the ones struggling.
I used to be able to sit through hours of sermons, purposely listen to more throughout the week via podcast, or sit comfortably having long discussions about this scripture, or that Christian principle, or that doctrine. I used to do it all with ease, and often with an eagerness to prove a point or learn or add to the discussion. Now, I find I am that quiet person, who avoids sermons more than not and who starts to get really nervous when many of the old discussions come up. It’s so strange.
I never used to be or feel uncertain about anything in regards to faith.
Now I am uncertain about more than I am not.
I used to consider my Faith, whole and complete, built on a firm foundation.
Now I see it in broken pieces and shifting sands.
Chapter 46 is about Serving.
Before Jesus, and even after him, most people assumed that God was at a great distance above us. To approach God meant to leave this world. But Jesus modeled a profoundly different vision. God comes down. God meets us where we are, in our neighborhood, on our level, where we need God most. God descends to the pit of need, suffering, and abandonment. God is not distant from us, aloof, across a chasm, far above looking down. No, God is with us. Here. Now. In reach.
“While we race to get to the head of the table, Jesus shocks everyone and takes the role of a servant, washing their feet. While we push and squeeze into the inner circle, Jesus shocks everyone and walks out to the margins to hang out with the outcasts and outsiders. While we struggle to make ourselves rich—often at the expense of others—Jesus shocks everyone. He pours out everything he is and has. While we fight to seize power over others, Jesus empowers others by standing with them in solidarity, by listening to them with respect, by seeking to make them successful, even at great cost to himself.”
Excerpt From: Brian D. McLaren. “We Make the Road by Walking.” iBooks. https://itun.es/us/5YMbR.l
This is what keeps drawing me back in.
Its like a tide and the shore. Back and forth. Different every time.
It is Christ’s love and the message of His life that continually draw me back.
Even though I don’t feel as certain anymore…
Even though I question…
Even though I feel more comfortable at the edge and among the fringe now …
A message of love that embraces honesty and vulnerability are my lifeline right now.
A message of love and service challenges me to look out and beyond, to see myself in someone else’s shoes, to build my life around more than just what is expected, comfortable, or easy.
A message of love and redemption that tells me that even though its harder, my faith of broken pieces is more precious than ever.
Suddenly I am reminded that perhaps that is what this season is about, where life and faith built in the middle of shifting sands work slowly and painfully together to create something timeless.
Where broken edges and sharp corners are worn away to reveal something new…
- What did you find in Chapter 45 or 46 this week that spoke to you?
- Have you ever found yourself questioning and struggling to clearly understand not only “grey areas” of Christian Doctrine, but perhaps even more foundational ones like those within the Creed?
- Would you rather feel more certain in your Faith or does uncertainty push you to have more Faith?
- What does the Spirit of Service found in Christianity and exemplified through Christ’s life inspire in you?