how she started writing, and I left a comment. But now I think I should expand on parts of the comment here on my own blog.
One of the issues with church as we have known it is that we are inclined to work very hard at making it better.
We aim for better organisation, better teaching, more entertaining speakers, more professional music, more and better books and leaflets, exciting events, and so on.
So what could possibly be wrong with making things better? Well, nothing really. Better is indeed... better! But that's not where the problem lies.
His ways and our ways - The real issue is that we work out ways of making it better according to our own wisdom and knowledge. And all the time Papa might be watching what we do, appreciating our zeal and hard work, while all the time lamenting the fact that we are not doing his will, but our own.
His ways are his ways, not necessarily like our ways at all. Better in my opinion may even be worse in his.
We need to become a more obedient people. We need to hear more clearly, take what we do hear more seriously, and turn hearing into action. Something that is held to be almost self-evident in many parts of the church today is that men should take leadership roles and women should be quiet and submissive. But Felicity has been hearing very clearly (and so have I and many others) that this is not really what Papa is saying. It's generally based on a particular way of reading a handful of verses in the New Testament and on historical attitudes in society as a whole.
This latter point about society is part of a larger issue that needs to be resolved in our hearts and minds, and that is where church fits in society.
Holy and secular - You see, church is not separate from the rest of life. We often think in terms of church on the one hand and the world on the other. We 'go to church' on a Sunday morning and do and say and hear and see holy things. And the rest of the week we live our 'ordinary lives' and go to school or work or care for the home and devote our attentions to money, shopping, looking good, having fun, watching TV and doing a thousand and one other 'important' things.
But in truth there is no holy and secular, there is just life as a whole and society as a whole and Christ in and through his people bringing light and flavour into all of it, into all the aspects mentioned above and many, many more. Alan Hirsch makes this point very clear in 'The Forgotten Ways'.
The thing is, Papa is involved in all of life, he is indeed the source of all life. And if he is involved in all the aspects mentioned above, so should we be. If we are truly in the Son and he is truly in us, how can we avoid his involvement in every moment we are alive? And in any case, why exactly would we want to? If my heart is open to hear him he will continually tell me where to go, who to speak to, how to behave and what to believe.
Obedience - Understand that Felicity's writing, and Alan's are the results of obedience. They did what the Holy Spirit called them to do. It was already in the Father's heart and plan for them to write. He has things in his heart for you to be doing too - what are they?
And best of all, rather than all following the same understanding and the same ideas, we all follow the same principles but the detail varies. Papa's path for you will be different than his path for me; he deals with us individually. We should not see ourselves as factory-produced items, all made the same within very tight tolerances. Instead we are are all hand crafted, individually fashioned by the master craftsman.
Factory-made furniture is manufactured from laminated board and timber pre-cut and fastened with plastic blocks and metal screws and fittings. Craftsman-made furniture is hand sawn from selected timber of good quality and jointed in traditional ways. The maker is sympathetic to the pattern of the grain and turns imperfections into beautiful features. The surface is carefully sanded to a smooth finish and polished with real waxes or oils.
I commend Alan Hirsch's books to you, and Felicity and Tony's, and Neil Cole's too. There are a thousand clues to Father's ways of showing us his purpose in all these books.
But I commend the still, small voice of the Spirit to you even more.
Here's what we need to do, all of us who are willing and able.
- Tell Papa you're sorry for your failure to listen and hear.
- Tell him that you will listen from now on.
- If you don't know how to hear, ask him to teach you. Then expect him to find a way to do it.
- Decide to obey everything you hear from him.
- Just begin doing it!
- Have you read Alan Hirsch's book, 'The Forgotten Ways'?
- Is the Father's wisdom greater or less than yours?
- Do you suppose Father wants us to do his will or our own?