"And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more an more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ." Philippians 1: 9-10
I am reading, "Permission to Speak Freely," by Anne Jackson and the gist of the book is tension in church culture. In the beginning she asks, "what is the one thing you feel you can't say in the church?"
Some of the feedback she received:
"I currently feel no connection to God when I pray or read the Bible. Sometimes I wonder if this whole Christianity thing is a lie. Most of the time I never feel forgiven for my sins, partly because it's hard to forgive myself, the other part is that church people seem to never let you let it go and move forward. Why do we have lavish worship centers but there are starving children in our own backyards and around the world."
I asked myself, what is the thing I would be afraid to say in church? Certainly some confessions (which is the main thrust of the book) but even still I wondered what if Jackson's inquiry was turned in a different direction.
What are some things that I should say in church, but don't. Not criticism, that is cheap and easy--and too often rolls off my tongue. No, the words that Paul is saying...how might I offer wisdom, insight that reflects growing to what is best?
What is left unsaid that should be offered up, to move in the direction of best, the word means to know that which makes a difference? What can I speak to a make a difference --create a good tension in the church?
Some of my answers:
The reason people should be in a Bible study together is to know God more completely and then respond to that with confidence not bound as much by life circumstance. People should give, time and money--money and time because it is the only way to not live selfishly. People need encouragement, attention and good humor. Ministry work is not always a smashing success, but is always worth the effort. Prayer is not a substitute for actually working. (that is sarcastic, let's try again). Serving is action, prayer is connecting to God--God always answers prayer the same way: with himself (borrowed but can't remember from whom). Prayer is essential but it is not the same as serving other people. Back to good humor, we need laughter--it is one of the greatest gifts from God, its free and easy and blesses so much. There is tragedy that needs healing comfort, but we get that, sometimes we forget to pursue laughter.
Random, but too often unsaid. I wonder what kind of good tension would come from more of that--what should be said that is wise, and insightful, and moves the church toward what is best?
What would you say?