What Groucho Marx, Heavenly Sandpaper and Bonhoeffer have in common

Groucho Marx said he wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a club that would have him as a member.

An elder of my church told me this morning that he believes each member is empowered to go to a brother/sister and say, “Look, I’ve heard rumors that I want to ask you about.” This is part of the process of restoring a brother or sister. We should not assume that someone else has confronted the person and a problem (though we could certainly try to find out). We often assume someone else is closer to the situation. We are accountable to be accountable.
Somehow we live in the tension between 1 Corinthians 5:11 (don’t even eat with a greedy, immoral, etc. person) and James 5:19-20 (chase a brother and restore him). I’m glad there’s tension there in Scripture. We always think we have to know “the answer” in blacks and whites, but God is a God of mercy and judgment.

I suppose I should follow a Groucho quote with a dignified Bonhoeffer quote; one that has meant so much to me over the last ten years throughout mission team personal dynamics and growth and work in churches and in relationships with co-workers and neighbors…

Just as surely as God desires to lead us to a knowledge of genuine Christian fellowship, so surely must we be overwhelmed by a great disillusionment with others, with Christians in general, and if we are fortunate, with ourselves. By sheer grace, God will not permit us to live even for a brief period in a dream world. He does not abandon us to those rapturous experiences and lofty moods that come over us like a dream…Only that fellowship which faces such disillusionment, with all it’s unhappy and ugly aspects, begins to be what it should be in God’s sight, begins to grasp in faith the promise that is given to it. The sooner this shock of disillusionment comes to an individual and to a community the better for both. A community which cannot bear and cannot survive such a crisis, which insist upon keeping its illusion when it should be shattered, permanently loses in that moment the promise of Christian community. Sooner or later it will collapse.

Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a
hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to
survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian
community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal
intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

Thus the very hour of disillusionment with my brother becomes incomparably salutary, because it so thoroughly teaches me that neither of us can ever live by our own words or deeds, but only by that one Word and Deed which really binds us together–the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ. The morning mists of dreams vanish, then dawns the bright day of Christian fellowship.
–Bonhoeffer, Life Together, p. 26-27

Mom simply calls this process “heavenly sandpaper.” She’s right. She usually is.

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Drudgery

I whispered, “Yes, yes,” to when I read Oswald Chamber’s words this morning for February 19. See if you say yes, yes to this thought on drudgery.

“Durdgery is one of the finest tests to determine the genuineness of our character. Durdgery is work that is far removed from anything we think of as ideal work. It is the utterly hard, menial, tiresome, and dirty work. And when we experience it, our spirituality is instantly tested and we will know wether or not we are spiritually genuine.”

When we are children we hate drudgery. As we grow old we realize that we can find God in routine, the mundane, the toil of life and not somehow outside of it as if we could leave our bodies to meet him in nirvana. No, the beauty of God’s creation is that we meet him here where we are, in our longings, in our suffering, in our drudgery.

Chambers says, “If we will arise and shine (as moms and dads say in the mornings!), drudgery will be divinely transformed.
May your drudgery be transformed today. Rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you! (Ephesians 5:14).

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Waffle House

continued from 2/2/04 post…

So John Mark and I met at Waffle House to talk about what we’d write about the book’s topic: baptism. I came prepared with a ball point and a syrupy napkin to write my thoughts on. John Mark had a full outline. We used his outline, not my napkin, to start the 18 month process of writing the book. I suggested we call the book Down in the River to Pray to capture a word-play based on the wildly successful song by Allison Krauss from the Cohen brothers movie, O Brother, Where Art Thou? John Mark added the sub-title, Revisioning Baptism as God’s Transforming Work.

We met again to develop chapter titles and divvy up the writing by chapters. But we wouldn’t simply write our chapters and plug them in…our work interlaced like a woven basket. We carefully read, commented on, edited one another’s work. We sent drafts to our publisher, Leonard Allen, and he made excellent suggestions along the way from which we re-wrote and edited extensively.

The book was released October 2003 and is just now hitting some bookstores and conferences. John Mark and I will be speaking at Abilene Christian University Bible lectures February 23-26 and Pepperdine University Bible lectures May 4-6.

More about Down in the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as God’s Transforming Work click here

By Greg Taylor Posted in General

Speaking of controversial books…

John Mark Hicks is a good friend and former professor of mine at Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis. Nearly two years ago we sat down for lunch and he said, “I’ve been thinking about writing a book, and it might be controversial. Would you like to write it with me?”
I choked on my water. “Uh, sure,” I said.

To quote Johnny Carson’s old TV slides, there’s More to come…

By Greg Taylor Posted in General