Three Crises: An Evening Chat … World, Church, LifeAuthor: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Bobby's World, Contemporary Ethics, Hermeneutics, Ministry, Preaching
Its the late evening here in the desert … as I write this I am on the back porch by the pool, laptop and I looking up at the starry sky … makes me ask how reflective are we? How introspective can we be? How honest can we be with ourselves and with others? Has anyone else noticed? Or am I just so delusional that I have failed to have eyes and ears to truly see and hear? Let me tell you what I see and then you tell me what you see.
I am only forty years old and the world I live in has drastically changed in my own lifetime. It seems to me that the world is in the throes of an identity crises.
We are moving (with more velocity daily) from a Euro-American centric world to an Asian one. The rate of change is intimidating and mind numbingly immense. My barely two hundred year old non-denomination denomination is locked in a life and death mid-life crises that mirrors the chaos of the wider cultural earthquake. And to make matters worse I, Bobby Valentine, am also in the middle of an identity crises! A thread that runs through all of these crises is a poltergeist comically named “Postmodernism.” It is both the engine that drives SOME of the tremors and a result of the aftershocks from these cracks in the “Modern” world.
I grew up believing, and was comfortable with, a certain perspective of the world. This, whether I like it or not and no matter how patriotic one may be, is changing and will never be the same again. Crises! My non-denomination denomination has been trying to come to terms with itself for nearly the length of my life and the old “identity” markers have caved because they were built upon sand of Modernity and the inevitable storm has seen them crash and wash away. Crises! My personal identity was wrapped up so much in being a husband and even Dad that I never stopped to consider how unsure a foundation that really is. Storm came: Divorce from hell. Every other weekend dad. Illusions shattered. Crises!!!!
The crises around us are not a small dust devil but rather a world wide Hurricane Katrina that will alter the maps of the world, the maps of our religious selves and our “personal” life as well. The crises of the surrounding world yanked my head out of the sand when the Grim Reaper knocked on my door …
For the last year and a half I have been trying to “see” me, see my church, and see my world as it really is. I am not so sure I have done that successfully. I was already looking before the Reaper arrived but he made me do some serious soul searching in all the above areas. To find out who “I” really am I talked to a counselor, cried, cussed, lamented … and more than any other time in my life I became Israel! He who struggles with God!! God made me look in the mirror and ask tough questions of my world, of my non-denomination denomination, and my family. The most fundamental question of all was “WHO are you Bobby V?”
To answer the question God sent me to his Word. He asked me to listen. He asked me to be silent. He asked me to kneel. He asked me to “give IT up” … whatever “it” is. He drove me, yes DROVE me, into the Word. I began to realize that the Word is not simply about or even primarily about elders, deacons, and names on a building. The Story actually has surprisingly little interest in this kind of stuff. God challenged me to hear IN his written word his Word for my world, my church, and my life.
I saw, in the written word, that David lived out the Word in a way that was true and yet different than Moses. That the early church revered the written word but sought how to hear the word to them in their own day. I recalled reading in the written word where Paul was accused of seeking popularity for preaching a “law free” gospel (cf Gal 1.10). Sometimes being true to the written Word in our own day causes us to look like “liberal” to those who only see but never understand (meditate on Matthew 12.1-14 and 13.13-15).
For a year and a half I have munched on Scripture like I have never before. Psalms is my daily companion. The Gospels pull me in in a way that I just did not understand at one time. My life has a rhythm that was not there once before. The Story of God in scripture and being with him in worship have been God’s tool of giving me eyes to see what I could not before … and frankly would have preferred not too!!
I have learned that is it is ok to embrace a truly resident alien point of view. This alleviates the stress of the Asian shift in the balance of power in the world. I’ve learned it is ok to pledge allegiance to the kingdom of God regardless of the ramifications. I have learned that my non-denomination denomination has been shaped by the “myth” of Modernity rather than sola scriptura as we have claimed. Indeed I have come to believe that my task is to help the church live with in the counter world envisioned by the written world in the power of the Living Word. And I have learned that my own identity is not in a marriage, fatherhood or anything else but hidden in the Messiah … which is why I began to wear a new ring … a black ring with a crown of thorns woven on it.
Our world is changing and drastically so. But we have safety and refuge within God’s global kingdom. Our church is changing and it will not look like it did in AD 50; AD 1000; AD 1878; AD 1906 or even AD 1970. But Jesus is training us to seek out “old treasures” as well as “new (meditate on Matthew 13.52). And my own life will never again be like it was prior to December 16, 2007 … never! Just like the world will not go back. The church can’t go back even if some have illusions that they can. We see to weather the crises by being saturated with God’s Story and shaped by it that we can live our faithfully and truthfully in our own day and our own time the Gospel of Christ crucified and the reign of God over all.
Well I have rambled long enough. I invite you to watch the video below. It will help us see just how our world is changing … and ask the question from a kingdom standpoint: What does it all mean?