Random Blog Clay Feet: February 02, 2009
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Monday, February 02, 2009

Indigestion Mutiny

As I was driving to work this morning and thinking about the mutiny that my stomach has been conducting over the past few days, I got to thinking about how this might be a lesson for me about my relationship to the body of Christ or maybe some of the problems that we experience in the local church.

So, what does my stomach going on strike for a few days have to do with the church?

Well, I decided to think about it a little more. My stomach for the past few days seems to have almost completely shut down operations and gone on vacation with little concern for the feelings or well-being of the rest of my body. It refuses to process almost anything that I have tried to coax it to take. About all that I could put in it without serious complaining for the first couple days was water. Even the herbal tea that I fixed thinking it would settle my stomach the first morning only caused it to rebel intensively and instantly which left me with no illusions of trying that idea again for a long time.

After a couple days I tried to eat a little soup in the evening after eating nothing all day, but it sat like lead in my stomach and only served to get me up very early in the morning not feeling well at all and caused me to regret that I had tried to eat anything. I finally got the message that I would just have to leave it alone until it was good and ready to go back to work. Meanwhile the rest of my body was languishing for nourishment and I was getting so weak that I could not stand up or work for very long without sitting down frequently and catching my breath.

It occurred to me that maybe there could be an important lesson in this about what is going on in my area of the body of Christ, the local church. It seems to me that the church is exhibiting some of the same symptoms of overall weakness that I have been feeling for the past few days. It also made me wonder if possibly it might be for similar reasons – lack of nourishment due to insufficient digestion of good food.

You see, I have been willing and able all this time to put food into my stomach to supply the needs for the rest of my body at any time. My mouth was more than ready to savor and chew on good food, my nose enjoyed smelling the food that others were eating as were my eyes. In fact, at church this last weekend they had a very delicious-looking and smelling social meal that I really desired to participate in, but my stomach was still out on strike and so it was out of the question. All I could have were a couple glasses of lemonade.

Is it possible that there are parts of the church that are blocking the assimilation of the nourishment that the body so desperately needs just like my stomach and intestines are preventing me from enjoying food and providing for the rest of my body like I need? Is there good spiritual food just waiting to be given to the church members, the body of Christ but certain people who may somehow be in positions of responsibility for the nourishment of the body might be preventing that food from being digested properly or distributed freely? If so, am I part of that problem myself?

The more I come to perceive the real spiritual condition of some of the people around me, the more amazed I am at how empty they are, how malnourished they seem to be when it comes to real spiritual vitality. But instead of feeling critical about this as it is so easy to do, I am becoming concerned that there is somehow a bottleneck in place preventing the normal distribution and digestion system that God designs for the church to have happening all the time.

Spiritual malnourishment is a very serious problem, but it might be due to things that we are overlooking. We might suppose that there simply isn't enough spiritual food available, that we need a good pastor to feed us or better speakers to come visit more often. But that may possibly not be the case at all. Just as there is plenty of good food available for me right now but I can't benefit from it like I want to, there might be food all around us that we simply are refusing to assimilate. Some might suppose that other people are not ready to receive very much spiritual food or that it might be too heavy for them to receive. This may partly be true, but we have been in this condition for so long that I wonder if maybe some want to keep it that way for some reason.

My stomach seems to have me hijacked right now. It acts like it has a mind of its own and a schedule of its own and it is not even willing to tell me when it is going to quit this unusual activity. I feel sometimes as if I am waiting for my stomach to let me know when we can have a reconciliation and can began fully cooperating again like we used to do. But it seems to have a spirit of independence and nothing I try seems to have much effect on changing the situation very much. So I have had to simply let it go without food day after day hoping that it will finally relent and start feeling genuinely hungry so that we can get synchronized again and have all of my body parts in agreement and at peace again. Of course, in the meantime the rest of me is suffering from lack of needed nourishment and strength.

I feel very much the same way in my own church. I feel that many are starving for lack of spiritual nourishment while others are so intent on keeping up appearances that they won't allow much real food to be introduced or digested properly. When good food does show up occasionally they seem to almost feel threatened or resentful at times. This puzzles me and makes me ask God what is really going on here. But I keep getting the sense that I need to wait and allow hunger to have its effect. In fact, I have found myself praying more intently that God will cause all of us to feel much more hungry, intensely hungry so that we will begin to crave real food and will become dissatisfied with the status quo, the superficial and will desire to come together to seek God more intentionally.

Sometimes I feel like I am trying to introduce food into a system that is unwilling to accept it and distribute it. But I also wonder if I might be part of the problem in other ways that I am unaware of as of yet. How might I be blocking others from experiencing God in their lives more fully? Is my spirit discrediting the claims of God to be able to transform people radically? Am I saying one thing and living another, thus giving the body forms of indigestion? Or maybe I am unwilling to be part of the humble system of eliminating wastes that most people find to humiliating to even think about?

I want God to show me how I can cooperate with Him and His plan for healing the serious dysfunction of the digestive system of my church body. It is dangerous to go for long periods of time without proper nutrition. It also prevents the body, whether physical or spiritual, from being able to accomplish much at all of any useful significance when it is barely able to just keep limping along in survival mode.

I am beginning to sense that spiritual vitality is connected with the interactions and the health of the spirit of each person involved. If my spirit is not full of hope, of courage, of faith, of joy and vitality and passion that marks the life of a person connected closely with God, then I am certainly part of the indigestion problem of the body of Christ. In fact, I am rather sure that it wouldn't take long to find some who would confirm that I give them a sense of indigestion.

I am not sure what to do about this condition. I am praying about it and asking God to open my eyes, my mind and especially my heart and to change my spirit even more radically to be part of His solution of healing for the local body. I don't know what that means or what it will involve. I could speculate I suppose, but I would rather hear what God has to say about it. I want to perceive God's solutions, God's plans, God's purposes and what He is doing behind the scenes instead of trying to come up with my own schemes. I believe that finding out what God is up to and cooperating with that makes more sense that trying to fix things with my ideas and solutions. But that takes extra patience most of the time and so I am waiting to hear more from His Spirit.

Meanwhile, I am hoping that with some careful attention and slow improvement my own stomach is beginning to allow me to get a little more processing done of my own. I have been able to eat a little more today, though very small amounts. I have been able to eat a couple pieces of fruit for a couple meals and even got down a salad tonight. I hope it doesn't bother me before morning.

And as far as the church goes, I am still writing down many things that are coming to my mind at various times. But I am also praying that God will open my heart much more, will transform my spirit more radically and that I will be empowered with the unconditional love of Jesus dwelling in me so that others will smell the goodness of God and get excited about feasting at His table.