Have been pondering this quite a bit lately, especially while resigning from my Community Bible Study group that seems to exist in order to blend our lives together for precisely 1.5 hours every Thursday night.
Something about turning 55 has created somewhat of a wild woman in me. I don’t want to spend (waste) my time playing church anymore with people who are only together because the script says it is time to be together. If I have to pay $60 a year and go 10 miles every Thursday night to be friends with these folks, I want different friends (in all fairness, I have a handful of them I will continue to see outside of Bible study. Maybe they are the reason I have spent the last 19 years at this study).
With my husband, I have raised a child with autism to age 21. He is slowly being launched into life. Hopefully this will work . . .
I faced breast cancer at age 49 and survived it! Praise God.
Both of the above things have probably been additional factors propelling me toward wanting relationships that are real with other Christians. I even want transparency.
The Bible speaks of knowing even as also we are known. I realize that that is in the future tense in I Corinthians 13, but the Bible also presents several portraits of the Apostle Paul loving into people’s lives and being loved back. I don’t think that wanting to know and be known by our brothers and sisters in Christ is a “pie in the sky” concept, even now.
And I am finding myself with less and less tendency to hang out in scenarios that are plastic and full of playacting.
Something that was very compelling to me about a pastor friend’s description of his Bible studies in a pub is the authenticity that he said they bring to the relationships the men form there.
I thought about those who use Romans 14:22 in a certain way:
“Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth.”
Some use this verse to say that it is okay to do what our conscience allows but we must not advertise it to those who would stumble if they knew and did the same thing. So far, I agree with that.
They then go on to live as though they must also keep it secret from those who would judge them for their actions.
So we have Baptists who are deacons/church leaders but who think that they had better keep quiet about attending country/Western concerts at the Amphitheater or about going to movies or about having mixed swimming parties or about going to the beach . . .
See what that does, right there? It creates a secret life for many, many churchmembers who believe that their pastors or fellow churchmembers would not consider them to be leadership material if they knew how they really live.
It also makes it impossible to share our lives with many churchmembers because of secrets being kept. I can’t feel free to drop by your house if you may have to quick hide your beach stuff from me before you let me in . . .
I understand about not causing the weaker brother to stumble but this seems to cross the aisle into hypocrisy and into being totally independent of authentic relationships with each other.
What do you all think?