In my faith journey I find my self again at the cross roads. I'm beginning to see the reality of faith being stuck, bogged down in one big profound mysterious cross road. And, what makes navigation difficult is the lack of obvious controlled signals for direction; there is heavy traffic;it is getting increasingly noisier as conflicting voices vie for control. This would be the reality of faith in the 21st century, the new millennium...the threshold of post-modernity is barely visible as we look back.
More, and more traffic is backing up here. It's like a clogged artery ready to burst, and in it, trying to push their way to the center are the fundamentalist voices of religious police man. Each trying to direct their commuters forward, or in new directions.
We have culture, technology, religion,the environment, and go(d)ogle..and humanity jammed into this profound mysterious cross road. Yet, this is where faith finds it self these days. This is where we're all living .
I would estimate that most of the church hasn't even lifted their head, to look around. It's like the dazed driver with tunnel vision. They don't even acknowledge the intersection. They know everything has come to a stand still, and are content on inching their way forward. But if they really had a good look around they'd see many have abandoned the vehicle.
Look around what ever "church" vehicle your in. How many passengers under 20-30 are in your vehicle? Then ask yourself why? I suspect most have got tired of waiting in the intersection. They've opted to exit the vehicle and live " in " it.
Is there a way forward?
I think back into the gospel story, Jesus and the disciples on their way to Caesarea Philippi. Fascinating, that this too was a cross road. An intersection of trade and commerce, of religion, of philosophy, and culture. And, mysteriously, it's at the cross road Jesus asks, the provocative question, " Who do people say I am?"
Prophet, teacher...Messiah. There not really sure. They continue to follow.
Again, the gospel story. A roof top rendezvous with a pharisee, a religious scholar of the day. Nicodemus is profoundly aware of the intersection. And also he is captivated by imagination, and mystery of what, and who Jesus is. He sees Jesus as away forward, or what may be more true...is a way to live in the intersection. To live in the intersection, one needs to be born of the Spirit...reborn from above.
So don't be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be 'born from above'—out of this world, so to speak. You know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. You hear it rustling through the trees, but you have no idea where it comes from or where it's headed next. That's the way it is with everyone 'born from above' by the wind of God, the Spirit of God." ( Eugene Peterson's, The Message: John 3:7-8 )
All signs suggest we are poised to enter a new Age of the Spirit and that the future will be a future of faith” (p.224). “Faith is resurgent, while dogma is dying. The spiritual, communal and justice-seeking dimensions of Christianity are now its leading edge as the twenty-first century hurtles forward, and this change is taking place along with similar reformations in other world religions” (p.212). ( my friend Bill Dahl, has a great review of the book )
Again, the gospel story. Jesus meeting a woman on the extreme fringe of her culture, religion and community. So embedded is her identity in that intersection, she is stuck with no way forward. Interesting the well is central to the story, and the metaphor of religion as being a well. She is convinced her well is the only way forward. There's history, family heritage, ritual...and culture. They have always drank from that well. Tradition can be come deep ruts, in the intersection, where we just sit and spin our tires.
But Jesus convinces her that there is way to live in the intersection. It comes from drinking from another well, where it doesn't matter if you worship God on your mountain, or in your temple. What matters, is that you worship in Spirit, and in truth. That is the living, God is looking for, and...that is how you live in the intersection.
"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."( Eugene Peterson's;The Message:John 4:23-24 )
What has always caught my attention, and my heretic imagination is the profound mystery of the gospels. How the disciples lived out faith in the midst of the cross road. No where do I find the disciples making a statement of faith. Jesus seemed totally unconcerned about reducing faith to doctrine or dogma. Faith in Jesus was far more about the Spirit, of living in that profound incredible divine mystery in the context of the cross road.
So if the church is going to live, and survive in the cross road...it will really need to think seriously about abandoning the vehicle. And I say that more in a sense of structure. To live in that cross road, will in a sense, be to live, more of a profound simplicity of theological structures. In the intersection there is more of a profound sense of mystery. The church will once again have to learn to engage mystery. It will have to ask the big big question, " What is it, to live in the age of the Spirit?"
I think we will begin to find far more profound mysterious truth in the Jesus story, in the gospels. Especially when we can learn to live out the fullness of its theology and practice.I think with the help of the Spirit we will live and grow in the cross road. I really think, that is where the future of faith will be found.