So just to follow up with my last post, I've been thinking some more about it (including a few mental pokes from Greg) and I'd like to clarify something.
What I wrote was an investigation into why it is that men don't tend to find themselves involved in the institutional church. What's interesting is the self-fulfilling prophesy that happens. Guys are told "you're not Christian because you don't come to this event we call 'church'" and what happens? The guys think they're not part of the church, think they're not Christian, and perhaps begin to stop BEING Christians. Because Christianity is not a religion - it's a relationship. And if these guys stop pursuing that relationship with God because they think they're not a part of it, whose fault is that?
I guess maybe my point is that we've started excluding lots of people - mostly guys - from the body because we make the church to be a place/event instead of that organism of people, and so we say "ah, you go to a lot of church events, you must be Christian" instead of "ah, you live the life, you have a relationship with Jesus, we know you're Chrsitian because you love so well." Church is not an institution - it's a group of people, a community of believers who all have relationships with Jesus. We've given up communicating to build community and instead, gone and started categorizing people, which really just boxes God in. We've created our own formula instead of being as inclusive as possible - like Jesus did.
Now, I'm not arguing for relativism here. Relativism is saying "everyone is in, because every path goes to God!" It's just as judgemental as saying "you're not going to heaven" because it claims to have the answer. I'm not saying that. We've been told the answer - Jesus is the way - but frankly, we don't know WHO knows Jesus. I'm saying we shouldn't judge - we don't decide who gets to heaven, we just know how they get there. There's a whole lotta difference (and yet a fine line) between "judging" and "discerning." Our responsibility is NOT to say "you are a good/bad follower of Jesus." Really, it's not.
The problem comes when we have to decide who is supposed to do X for the "organization." Does Bob lead worship this weekend, or does Vivian? Do I ask Jane to do the finances or do I ask Freddy? And in light of the fact that suddenly we're not supposed to say "you're a Christian" ... what do we do?
We discern. We love. We obey.
Great Chris, thanks for trying to confuse me, I'm going to go read another blog.
I don't mean to give the same old answers, but frankly, there's more to them than meets the eye. I think discernment has more to do with making your best guess than some strange divinely-revealed formula. I mean, you ask God, and assuming He tells you "this is what you should do," you go with that. But that's more like letting God do the work, and so if you can get away with that, sweet. But if God says "you pick," you have to discern - use your best judgement, as long as you don't judge. And it might work out, it might not. But it's not going to be 100% certain - because I don't think that certainty is the point anymore.
God is all that is certain.
We are told we can know Christians "by their love." And "love is patient, kind, never vaunted up with pride, never thinks of itself, always sides with truth." So maybe instead of judging people, we're supposed to love them unconditionally, as Christ did. You can't judge someone if you're too busy loving them unconditionally. And when we love, we obey. And the world suddenly gets just a little better.