Memories Beget Glory Days
I used my self-imposed two-year non-compete as a time of reflection, meditation, prayer, and discovery. The person I was. The person I am. The person I will be.
So, as I speak, I speak only somewhat candidly, because I also speak reservedly. You see, I recognize the power of words. I recognize the reaction to words. Thus, I know the power of words.
Words have the power to create and destroy. So, I choose my words carefully.
Up to two years ago, I thought I had experienced the biggest changes in me. My life would simply involve serving in the church, in pulpit ministry. Life changed – in a big way.
Are there really “glory days”? Depends on whom you ask. Depends on your experience. Depends on your propensity of waxing nostalgic. In part, some days are truly glorious. But, I prefer the present, and look forward to seeing what God brings in my future.
Seeking Begat Finding
When I went to Bible School, I did so because I needed answers; because the methods and answers I had been given had proved incapable of answering the questions I had about the Bible. Those techniques simply failed my search for Biblical understanding. So, I was on a quest to understand. I prayed earnestly for wisdom, and understanding I found.
God blessed me with greater understanding of the Scriptures. Seeing more of its history. Seeing more of its culture. Seeing a little better the languages of the Scriptures. And how all these things influence our understanding.
God also blessed me with understanding of people and growth. I witnessed and continue to witness church leaders, including preachers, teaching what they know to be true. Yet, God permits them to experience trials, and over time their knowledge and thoughts mature and season. You see, God did not create life static. God uses life to deconstruct assumptions, re-shape us, train us.
With those things in mind, I have a serious question: how much honesty is too much? As people, we say we want honesty; but in reality, we are scared of honesty. This is because honesty opens us up for discomfort, for hurt, for betrayal. While real honesty embraces correction, honesty still stands leery fearing: What if I’m wrong? So, how much honesty do I give?
Finding Begat Caution
In Bible School, things were busy, hectic, draining both emotionally and physically, but provided a tremendous foundation for my Bible knowledge. As much as I grew from my Bible School instruction, my subsequent studies while serving as a pulpit minister helped me experience the same type of tremendous growth in my Bible knowledge. This additional growth came about because I incorporated my Bible School training.
I took all of that Bible School training into my Bible research, and Bible studies. I took all of that additional knowledge into my Bible preaching and Bible teaching. I gave diligent efforts to communicate the things learned.
Words had to be carefully considered and chosen. Words to express my studies. Words that would be understood. Words to be avoided because they simply have too much assumed meaning. Thus, I found that there is no such thing as speaking candidly, because ill-chosen words persuade not. I still reconsider, make edits, all hoping I am heard and not “taken out of context”.
Caution Begat Rejection
If there is one thing I know, I know people and religion: stand fast – give pressure to those that are perceived as destabilizing. This pressure is designed to have the one under pressure, rethink their information and position. I have.
Too many want to use two words here and two words there to judge character, intention. I know it’s done. I have read the publications and blogs that do these things. So how does one move forward? Cautiously? Courageously? Confidently?
All I can say is that the things I learned and presented cost me. That knowledge cost me stability. That knowledge cost me friendship. That knowledge cost me fellowship.
Rejection Begat Pain
With little experience and lots of naïveté, I used to think differently. I used to think that I could speak knowing that some listen, others don’t. But reality is some simply have presumed authority.
I was taught and still believe that creedal statements are unnecessary. I was taught that the Bible is enough; yet, I have learned that the Bible is not enough. Unfortunately I have learned that words intended as pillars can be easily removed to suit goals.
Take for example, the rebuffing I experience because I refuse to make biblical passages comport to certain “understood” doctrine. The scriptures are replete with influences from Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish culture, history, society and theology contexts. These extra-Biblical truths shape the intended meaning of the Scriptures, period.
Adding human pillars allows human pillars to be changed or moved to suit human purposes. This allows human doctrines to be maintained at the expense of God’s truth. Blazing the path for God’s truth, True Truth, demands one stand against human pillars. Challenging the human pillars (long held doctrines and positions) brings trauma and pain to the individual.
Pain Begat Fear
Compared to emotional and spiritual pain, physical pain and agony seem easy. They are not, but emotional and spiritual pain simply have no equal. When I think I have come to where the pain has healed, depending on conversation, somehow I relive moments, still rattling me.
This has taught me that time does not heal wounds; for time is not a physician, but a marker. Time simply reminds us of what is. Hence, the calendrical markings called anniversaries, birthdays, holidays.
In a desire to heal and move forward, I answered some questions, gave my attempts to explain myself. I am uncertain what was accomplished in doing that, because at times, it seems to have simply built animosity – furthering tragedy.
So, in me still resides some fear. Fear of being hurt by others. Fear of being unaccepted. Fear of being derided. Fear of being rejected.
Fear Begat Apathy
As I work, I ponder, “Why say anything? Nothing changes.” I recognize that the thought is fleeting, but more importantly defeatist. Yet, sometimes defeatism feels so true because words seem not to change things.
I wish there was a way to talk about Bible things without getting into arguments, but I don’t think it is possible. The more I work on this, the more I hesitate. I want to say things: start, then stop; almost don’t, then do.
I feel as if it doesn’t matter. Does anyone really want to hear anything I have to say? Considering some of my experiences, I have been corralled into second guessing myself – thinking: Do I have anything to offer?
Resolution Dissolves Apathy
Here is part of what I have learned: trolls don’t really care about True Truth. If the trolls cared about True Truth they would take more time to meditate on themselves and their publications. They really don’t care about me, or about what I am saying. They feign and portend care for me; but really do not. They care about their knowledge, their agenda, and achieving their goals. If they can stall me, negate me, or better yet, remove me, then so much the better. Such attitudes have little care for True Truth.
Those who do not care for True Truth use their position to maintain their power. And, as I have experienced, that power is achieved by one or two methods or a combination of the two. One, proclaim the position powerfully with intense voice inflection. Two, protect that position through defaming others’ character and intention. Three, use a One-Two combination.
These methods are sold as necessary. The uninitiated believe it. The blind follow it. However, there are those who pay attention. Those paying attention work within the brokenness. Those who pay attention hope that things will improve. Those who pay attention have hope that certain individuals will simply live out their days, when a new day will dawn bringing better things.
I do not write for those protecting their positions, or for those protecting their power, or for the uninitiated, or the blind. Instead, I write for those who are paying attention. I write for those who are hoping things will improve. I write for those who want things better.
The First Century Church is significantly different in many ways, important ways, ways my heritage said we valued. What I sought, seek, and will continue to seek is what I was taught to value – understand the First Century Church, restore its ideas and, perhaps, practices.
I seek the First Century Church, the ancient church of Christ.
Fear can no longer advocate apathy.