Our house church community had a wonderful weekend with four guys (including him) from a sister church in the Pacific Northwest. They connected many dots for us spiritually, exploding the false gnostic dividing lines between spirit and matter, sacred and secular, this good earth and the heavenly realm that longs to be ever-more poured into it as the beneficent reign of God expands in our hearts, churches, streets and cosmos.
Related to this, a thoughtful blogger (and apparently youth pastor) blogged last month about his experiences at the National Youth Workers convention, questioning whether any fruit is actually being borne from the wide-ranging ’emerging church conversation,’ of which I count myself a part. He asked several thoughtful questions but one question/assertion just floored me: “Are more people really coming to know Jesus, is his kingdom really growing? Certainly Monastic communities are not the answer for bringing about the kingdom.”
I thought are you kidding? Having just interviewed Shane Claiborne a few weeks ago (more details on that when it reaches publication), and having friends and good acquaintances at the Rutba House, Open Door Community in Atlanta, and other Catholic Worker houses, I am baffled as to what he can possibly mean. Here’s what I wrote him:
“Certainly Monastic communities are not the answer for bringing about the kingdom.” Certainly not? Whyever not?? I think that new monastic communities are our last, best hope. Think about it: We have the intimacy with God and the spiritual energy to transform the world, to embody the prayer “may your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” But if we remain either culturally captive to the spirit of ‘the American Dream’ or to the self-serving and self-referential ‘Evangelical Dream’ then really, what good are we–to ourselves or others? New monastic folks are encouraging us to literally reimagine our lives as more interconnected and engaged in our communities. If the world’s 2 billion Christians did this, we’d have a bloodless revolution of love overnight. Why isn’t this “the answer”? It sounds like the Gospel of Jesus Christ to me.”
What do you think? Should our conversation-in-action about living the abundant life include where we choose to live, how we choose to spend our resources, how we eat, the kind of energy we consume, who we’re meeting, loving, eating and throwing parties with, etc..?