Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jesus Has Left the Building

So, I finally finished the book I've been reading for the last 9 months, Jesus has Left the Building. Perhaps it's meaningful that it took 9 months to read it, and I've been having dreams of birth lately. I didn't put it all together until I finished the book the other night and realized that it had, indeed, been 9 months since the time I started. A few weeks ago I dreamed that I was in a church with a mixed Hispanic/Euro-American congregation, and I was carrying around a baby that was clearly mine. Mango & I had leadership roles in the church. And the baby was a baby, but it could speak. And the baby was blond with that frizzy, fine hair of a mixed African-European child. Last week I had another dream of being in labor. The labor was long & drawn out, but it wasn't painful. The baby was in a bad position, but I was able to manually manipulate it's position, and I could clearly tell, from the outside, the baby's orientation. Then, suddenly, the baby just appeared in my arms, laughing and speaking. Just as suddenly, the baby was gone, and I was still in labor. The labor was still not painful, and I woke before it was over.

Dreams of birth are, I guess, supposed to be about ideas. They aren't typically about real human babies. Strangely, I hadn't even picked up the Jesus Has Left the Building book in several weeks, and I had both of those dreams before I picked it up to finally slog through the final chapters. If Mr. Vieira ever reads this, I do, indeed, mean that I slogged through the final chapters. That has it's own meaning for me, too. Whenever I've been reading the book (meaning, book in hand, actively reading), I've gotten so excited about the ideas. I've read chunks aloud to Mango. I've underlined and discussed. BUT, as soon as I put it down, I can't get back to it. It's like the book had some magnetic forcefield that repelled me from it. It wasn't that I didn't have time. I read plenty of books in between. I just didn't want to go back to it. I mean, I knew in my head that I wanted to go back to it, but I couldn't get myself to do it.

Yes, this all has meaning for me. Yes, the charismatic part of me reads into every single nuance of what I've said here. What I'm trying to say is that I think the book has some powerful, perhaps prophetic, meaning...for the church as a whole and for me. I see Mango & I somewhere in the front lines. Someday. It scares me, quite honestly. But I'm getting used to being scared. Being scared just means that I live more by faith and less by sight. It's exciting and horribly unnerving all at the same time.

In a nutshell, Mr. Vieira believes that the church, as a building, as a structured entity, is going to collapse. God is going to allow it to collapse. Because the church isn't doing or being what the church was intended to do or be. It isn't a light to the world. It has lost it's salt. And people are going to have to figure out how to BE the church, how to have real relationships and real community with each other. Christ-followers are going to have to figure out how to interact with the rest of society in a way that demonstrates that we are different and that makes all the rest of the world want what we have. The current church is so far from that. It's heart-breaking. Jesus must weep. People don't want want we have. They want to get as far away from Christians as possible.

God, make me a Christ-follower. Make me your instrument. I want to play your music. I want to be light and salt, love and compassion. I want to be authentic. No games, no facades, no lingo, no agenda.

Take my life, and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

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