Contemplative Monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Stop The Christian Turf Wars and Start Living Jesus



Born Again in No Man’s Land

We lived our first 10 years as believers outside of the church. Not intentionally mind you, they weren’t recruiting hippies and ex-hippies in those days.

I think the main thing we learned from living our Christian life outside the church was that it gave us perspective. We didn’t need the structure to thrive as believers.

Coming into the Church

But, with five kids, we wanted more. So we came into the church, and lo and behold, we stepped into the middle of a turf war. We were ‘encouraged’ to choose sides. Then we were told what our side believed. And finally we were taught why everybody else was wrong. It was culture shock 101: Tribe vs Tribe.

So we left, and tried out virtually every ‘flavor’ of Christianity in the books. We learned the hard way, so you don’t have too. Please hear me: I’m a Contemplative, and a Mystic. Now, doesn’t that put me at odds with ninety nine percent of the Body of Christ? Not a chance.  And here’s why.

Doing Life from the Radical Center

So which side should we be on? Holiness? Catholic? Messianic? Evangelical? Pentecostal? Baptist? Orthodox?

For me, I stand where I started, with Jesus in the radical center. I’m there, between all Christian traditions. I’m in mid stream, and I’m not alone. It’s an awesome, expansive place to be. Why? Because all our theological streams flow from him. So why don’t we get back to the source? Why not live Jesus?

Sure, our traditions defy it. We relegate our people to spiritual gerbil wheels, hoping they’ll figure it out. Then when it get’s messy, we’ll call out the ‘big guns’ and shuffle everybody off into their cages, in our ‘big, clean Christian zoo.’

But life’s calling. And he’s out there in the wild radical center of abundant life. Can you hear him call?

I’ve got news for you. God is dangerous. And that’s exciting.

Our spiritual life flourishes when we’re in the radical center.

* Community grows from the center.

* Belonging is found in the center.

* Purpose flows from the center.

When we center our lives in Jesus, we live from our center, and radical things are bound to happen. And that’s what living  Jesus does. Abundant life bursts on to the scene.

All Structures Are Temporary

All theological constructs, create a separation, keeping us from walking with Jesus. While structures are important in this temporary life, there’s eternal life to be lived. And there’s no life to be found in any of our Church structures, in and of themselves.

So as long as our Church structures support our faith, our life in Christ, they’re serving their purpose. But once our structures become mechanisms of separation,  then turf wars in the Body of Christ ensue. Why? Because we’re walking in the temporal. This is especially true for those who believe that separation in the Body of Christ is holy.

But the solution is simple. We need to step out into Jesus. Walking with him, you will transform Church structures without even trying.

A Church structure only emanates the life from those who walk with God.

Church structure is like an echo. It’s the shadow waiting for reality to show up.

Living Life from the Radical Center

So where do we get a model for a radical life, living in the center of the Body of Christ?

Jesus is our model, and our source.

We can only come into him, plug into him, and live as his disciples in this imploding world. He’s our Lord and Master and our only hope.

When we abide in Jesus and walk in the Spirit, the love of God demolishes strongholds and demons flee.

When we are simply living him, our turf wars implode, our life abounds, and God is glorified.

So come home and join us. Come into the radical center of abundant life found in Jesus. There’s eternal life to be lived.


The follow-up of this article is: The Whole Church: The Grand View

Photo Credit of Whitby Abbey: James Whitesmith

A little back story on the photo: These are the ruins of Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire, England. Whitby was a Celtic abbey of men and women founded by Hilda in 659. It was here at the Synod of Whitby in 664 where the radical Celtic movement went in favor of Rome. It’s a fascinating story of the Celtic Church.

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  • Great post Bob. I know my thinking may be over simplistic but I believe that God uses the different structures to reach different people. We are not all the same, and God does not treat us as such. Structure should only help add a foundation for community; however, it should never be restrictive of the living in the the radical center with Jesus. The focus should always point to him, and not the structure. Much easier said than done.

  • Well said Jon! The point I’m making, and you’re the third pastor who’s brought this up :-), is that we tend to put our structures before our relationship with God spiritually, and we spend most of our time, talents, and effort supporting our structures rather than our structures supporting our faith. (Long sentence!) It’s obvious if you think about it. Our churches use the old corporation model. Seth Godin gives a good run down of the concept I’m using in Tribes. The second problem is that we see the fractured Body of Christ as normal. It’s by our love for each other that the world will know that we are disciples of Jesus, not the structure we belong to.

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