MRTYR - Week 8

More Ready Than You Realize…” by Brian McLaren

Book discussion week 8 - chapters 19, 20 & the Afterword

Chapter 19:

  • “…Modern Christianity has (inadvertently, I think) tended to reduce God to a being containable by human concepts or propositions or logic. It has too often acted as though it had God bottled, labeled, and hermetically sealed, a commodity we own and will distribute at will, logically proven, and theologically defined. Too often, as Alice said, for us modern Christians ‘proof stops at logic’.” Pg. 145. I believe it’s good and profitable to become educated on God and His word; to develop our beliefs and theologies about God - “Study to show thyself approved” (sorry for the KJV, but I don’t remember it any other way). But I also believe it’s good to have the mystery and to realize you can’t explain everything about God. I desire to be in awe of the beauty of the faith. I personally don’t want a packaged and defined God. So, can we learn about God, develop our beliefs and our relationship with Him, and still keep that mystery and beauty of the faith? What do you want from your walk? Where is it at right now? Do you like when “proof stops at logic” or do you long for more?
  • “…Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a man who plants seeds and then waits a while and then sees the seedlings rising to the sun and in the end, he ‘knows not how.’ It is a mystery and wonder to him. Paul said the same thing: ‘One plants the seeds, another waters them, but only God can cause the growth’ (1 Corinthians 3:5 ff).” pg. 146. This verse was first introduced to me a few years ago when I worried about why some of my Sunday school kids were growing and others were not. I blamed myself for not helping everyone grow. Then someone showed this verse to me, and I really felt a lot of pressure leave my heart and mind. And as we’ve talked about in this group, it is God working in the hearts of people that helps us change and grow. Have you been a spiritual friend to someone, seen him or her grow, and then wonder when it exactly happened? If so, would you be willing to share that story or those stories?
  • Looking at the last paragraph on pg. 146 (Do you realize this?…), what are your thoughts on this? How were people “saved” in Paul’s, John’s, Peter’s, St. Augustine’s, or Martin Luther’s day without the four spiritual laws, or steps to peace, or even the alter call? What does Jesus ask from those who want to follow Him?

—- something I missed the first time I read this book that hit me now – “…people come to faith in unique and non-formulaic ways, each one’s path and story unlike those of any other.” pg. 146. I feel as if Christianity has become more of a cookie-cutter society in the modern version of it; meaning everyone follows the same formula to get it, is told to do the same disciplines and you’ll get “marvelous” results, and to come to church every week, and so on and so forth… But what if we start to embrace the “uniqueness” of our journeys, listen to the stories of faith lost and gained, and watch the way faith develops between a “pilgrim” and God: but further more, be a participant in it with God and with each other?

Chapter 20:

  • “But in Christ, God wasn’t just creating more religious people; instead, God was forming a new kind of person, a whole new category of humanity. Unlike the irreligious, these people loved God. But unlike the religious, they loved the irreligious.” Pg. 154. Respond to this statement? Do you see the “religious” loving the “irreligious” today? How can or how do they show this love? What does the “Christians” loving the “Not-yets” look like to you - could you give some examples?
  • “Good books make you want to put them down and go do something. They make you want to stop reading and start living.” Have you ever read a book that made you feel this way? Has any part of this book had that kind of affect on you?

the Afterword:

“The fact is, I have engaged in many spiritual friendships that have resolved into ambiguity or misunderstanding, not joy or convergence. And many times – far more than I’m aware of – I haven’t said “just the right thing,” but rather, have unintentionally hurt or confused people. Too often, I’m sure, like the crowd in the story of Zaccheus (Luke 19) I have gotten in the way, and if God has touched others around me, it has been in spite of me, not through me.”

“Do not depend on the hope of results,’ Merton said. Being involved in God’s work requires us to face the fact that our work will at times appear to achieve… ‘no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.’ Far better than being obsessed with results, then, whether in social work or evangelism, is to focus on the value of the work itself, and on the value of being genuine friends with those we serve.” Pgs. 157-158.

I can’t lie, both of these statements really spoke to me because I’ve struggled with both. There has been many times that I’ve engaged in a “spiritual friendship” and walked away kicking myself for saying the wrong things, hurting that person with my words and actions, and hiding from God because I set His plan back 20 years by my actions. Or, I’ve been like “wow, I really worked hard at helping them and gave good advice”, and then I hear nothing from them or things get worse in their lives. Has this ever happened to you or am I the only one here (I realize I really could be the only one)? Do you believe God uses you in spite of you at times, truthfully!? Do you look for results or just value the genuine friendships you have?

  • “…The real hope… is not in something we think we can do but in God…” pg. 159. I ended with this quote because quite honestly, that’s what I hope for everyone in the end, including myself. I want my real hope and joy someday to be in God, not in what I try to do or think I can do. Whether it will happen this way, only time will tell, but it is what I truly desire for you, and for me!

Final thoughts? likes and dislikes, if "MRTYR" helped or hurt you in your walk with God, an overall response to the book, etc…?

—- Sorry this one was so long, but I wanted to end right with this book. And there were a lot of quotes, info, and thoughts I wanted to put down here. Thank you again for spending time with this group. I am truly thankful for you, and you have helped my journey with this discussion group. I appreciate you, and especially your heart. I look forward to our “spiritual friendship” in the future. - chris

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