Mike Cope's blog

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Is this a blog no-no? (And if so, who writes the rules?) This is an entry I wrote September 7. As I've been reading Ecclesiastes, I've returned to those thoughts from six months ago. Years ago when I was speaking at Northeastern Christian Junior College, Tony Campolo was also on campus to address a luncheon crowd on the topic: "A Sociologist Looks at Churches of Christ." Among the profound things he said was, "YOU GUYS ARE THE RELIGIOUS EQUIVALENT OF THE FLAT EARTH SOCIETY." (You have to put Tony's words in bold and caps.) He wasn't mad at us. In fact, there is a lot about the restoration heritage that really resonated with him. But he couldn't believe the naivity it took to talk about "the church" and "the Lord's church" as code phrases for the denomination known as Churches of Christ. It does take a pretty good dose of blindness and/or pride to make that kind of assumption. We are surrounded by Christ-seeking people. But there are other ways in which people can be part of the spiritual flat earth society. Some have lost a sense of wonder and mystery as they plow through life getting tasks done. They don't have time or the inclination to stop in amazement at the bursts of joy and hope around them. With busy lives and with low-level exhaustion, it's easy to miss out on the wonders of grace leaking in from all sides: from spouses, from children, from friends, from prayers, from movies, from books, from W TX sunsets. Try this for an experiment. The next time you go to church, open your eyes to everything and everyone God puts in your path. For once ignore the expected; forget your routine. Pray as you walk in for everyone you see. Shake the hands of people you would normally walk right past because you don't know them. Pretend you've been appointed DEACON(ESS) IN CHARGE OF GREETING. Instead of looking through the worship schedule to see whether you'll like it or not, imagine every possible source of amazement and wonder. Jump into the songs with everything you have. Look at the people around you. (Some did that at Highland this past year and saw a fortysomething woman who was losing a battle with cancer but who was so full of life and love that she drew them into the upside down world of the kingdom.) Absorb every icon, every picture, every facial expression. Be amazed at the body of Christ and the blood of Christ that is shared with you in communion. Imagine brothers and sisters in Christ who are sitting in huts or gathering under trees or huddled in rented public buildings from around the world. This is the art of spiritual imagination. It is apocalyptic. It sees the hope amid the suffering, the joy amid the routine, the love amid the bitterness, and the shalom amid the wars.

8 Comments:

  • Great thoughts and I'll try that experiment tomorrow at Easter service. And no, there aren't any blog rules - no worries.

    By Blogger kenny, at 3/26/2005 06:51:00 PM  

  • Mike,

    I'm glad you posted this again. I needed to take a second look at it. The first time I found myself caught up in the first half of the post - Tony's comments and all. I found myself mad at "the church" and "their" blindness.

    When I read it tonight it was the second half of the post that waged war in my soul. I found myself mad at, well, "myself" and "my" blindness. The line that pierced the body armor of my pride was, "Some have lost a sense of wonder and mystery as they plow through life getting tasks done."

    Good night! Could you have been any more right on? Tonight our family was doing this Easter activity and I found myself looking around our table at my family in total amazement. It was like I had been out of town for a long time and had just come back. Like the lights were off and then they came on again. Tears fought to jump out of my eyes and my heart was overflowing with joy. It was an amazing moment!

    As I walked from Emily's room (evening prayers and good night kisses) through the unusually quiet house, past the beautiful fire in the fireplace, I paused and wondered to myself, "how many other amazing moments have I missed this week?"

    As I was about to shut my laptop down for the night I felt prompted to check you blog and God brought me a word through you brother. I'm glad I didn't miss that either.

    Love you bro.

    By Blogger Joel Quile, at 3/26/2005 07:44:00 PM  

  • I'm glad you posted this again too, Mike. I loved it the first time around and I love it even more this time. I even love the word "wonder". I'll put this into practice this morning myself. I'm excited to see the wonderful things ahead for this morning!

    By Blogger Candy, at 3/27/2005 04:41:00 AM  

  • Actually, someone did write the rules...

    Click Here

    By Blogger Steve Jr., at 3/27/2005 06:54:00 AM  

  • Hi Mike.

    It was good to talk with you while you were getting "wired-up" to speak on Friday evening at Tulsa.

    Your message was excellent -- very inspiring. When Wade introduced you, he used the word "authentic." I think that is an apt description. When I talked with on Friday, I found you to be the same person I occasionally talked with in Searcy when I was a student at H.U. in the mid-eighties.

    I know this is off-topic. Sorry. I'm just thinking out loud.

    Jeff

    By Blogger Jeff Slater, at 3/27/2005 12:06:00 PM  

  • Mike-
    I recieved my copy of your "Women, Gifts, and the Body of Christ" message earlier this week. I listened to it once through and enjoyed it very much. I was thankful that your message was straight-forward and full of scripture. You articulated your thoughts is a humble fasion. I was wondering if you could point me to a link or a bookstore that carries the Osborne book that you quoted from. Or if possible could you email me a list of the books and study material you and Highland used as you made your decisions ragarding this subject. Thank you for your heart.

    Micheal Felker
    michealfelker@gmail.com

    By Blogger Micheal, at 3/27/2005 03:07:00 PM  

  • If anyone, ANYONE, could find a copy of this speech by Campolo, I would greatly appreciate it.

    I always like his perspective and would be interested to hear what it is on Churches of Christ.

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Phil, at 3/28/2005 06:47:00 AM  

  • It would be naive to not admit that sociologically Churches of Christ are a denomination. It would be naive to not realize that in mindset and practice we are often denominational. Theologically, however, I am happy to be in a place where I can still say simply that I am a Christian. That still means a great deal to me. If that is naive, at least, for me, it is intentional.
    I have never commented before, so let me say that if there is a Top Ten for blogs, yours belongs in it for its thoughtfulness, openness, consistancy, grace, and spirit.
    Cecil III

    By Blogger Wail, at 3/28/2005 07:37:00 AM  

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