For the summer I am reading a book by John Eldridge entitled Waking the dead: The Glory of a Heart Fully Alive.
It has taken me literally all stinking summer to read it. I am bound and determined to finish it before going on to another one! The first several chapters just took forever to get into. Not because he is a bad writer, of course. But, because I kept feeling like it was stuff I already knew. I wanted to learn something new and be enlightened by the book.
Would it really be the very last word of the very last sentence in the very last paragraph of the very last chapter of the very last section of the very last... ????
No... but almost. Chapter 11 of 12. And the funny thing: it's not anything new that inspired me.
This is the good part. You don't have to read the whole book. I'll share it with you. (Whoever you are-- okay, Shawn-- and maybe Nate and Heth-- my faithful bloggers).
He is writing about fellowships... companies... friendships. Their importance. Church as a community, an organism.
In this chapter, John writes (you know, we're on a first name basis since I have spent all summer with him) :
"When he left Rivendell, Frodo didn't head out with a thousand Elves. He had eight companions. Jesus didn't march around backed by hundreds of followers, either. He had twelve men - knuckleheads, every last one of them, but they were a band of brothers. This is the way of the kindgom of God. Though we are a part of a great company, we are meant to live in little platoons. It can be inspiring and encouraging to celebrate with a big ol' crowd of people, but who will fight for your heart? Who will fight for your heart? "
" ...Going to church with hundreds of other people to sit and hear a sermon doesn't ask much of you. It certainly will never expose you. That's why most folks prefer it. Because community will. It will reveal where you have yet to become holy, right at the very moment you are so keenly aware of how they have yet to be holy. It will bring you close, and you will be seen and you will be known, and therein lies the power and therein lies the danger. Aren't there those moments when all those little companies, in all those stories, hang by a thread? Galadriel says to Frodo, "Your quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true."
Eldrige says: "Most churches survive because everyone keeps a polite distance from the others. We keep our meetings short, our conversations superficial. No one is really being set free, but no one is really at odds with each other either. We have settled for safety in numbers -- a comfortable, anonymous distance. An army that keeps meeting for briefings, but never breaks into platoons and goes to war."
I have to say I have experienced some incredibly awesome times with my "fellowship". And by the same token, have been hurt very very bad. Living in an "organism", a "community", is like camping together. Eldrige says some philosopher described it like a pack of porcupines on a winter night. You come together because of the cold, and you are forced apart because of the spines.
The missing key in most fellowships is this: you have to know that the heart is good. It makes it easier to trust and forgive when you know the heart is good. Secondly, you have to know that you are really at war. And the enemy wants to destroy the fellowship.
A true community is something you have to fight for. We need each other. There are no other options.
Suddenly, all those one anothers in the Bible make sense. Love, Bear, Forgive, ..
It is so vital that we fight for each other's hearts... and the hearts that are still held captive.
This is the glory of a Heart fully alive.
I think I'm figuring this book out.