She's Ba-a-a-ack!

I've been on a sort of hiatus from this blog for a while. I've been co-facilitating a book study on Phyllis Tickle's The Great Emergence and that's been taking up most of my reflection time. I'm still processing a lot of it and haven't quite known how to put the results into words. What I do know is that the emerging Church is real. I also know that I want to be part of it. One of the nuggets that has managed to solidify itself in my thoughts is something that Tickle refers to as the difference between "Believe, behave, belong," and "Belong, behave, believe."

One of the reasons I became an Episcopalian was because that particular expression of the Christian faith offered a refreshing latitude for where one could put one's self on the spiritual and theological spectrum and still be considered a good Episcopalian (if the various acronymed expressions of "Anglicanism" haven't made that an oxymoron these days).

My previous experience had been of the believe, behave, belong type. There were two checklists: one was for believing exactly what the rest of the community believed, the other was for behaving exactly as the rest of the community behaved--or at least how it said you should behave. Keep those two checklists up to date and you belonged. Mess up, and you didn't.

The belong, behave, believe pathway seems much more user-friendly, and spiritually and theologically inviting. Travelers are welcomed into the community as they are and given the freedom to walk around, look around, and join in the life of the group first. Then if they like what they see, they may begin to behave in ways that the group does because it's life-giving and rewarding. Finally, as a result of belonging, and behaving, the seeker comes to believe.

My reading of the Gospels says to me that this is how it worked with Jesus. People followed him around either close up or at a distance as they got to know him. Nowhere do I read that they were first given a litmus test of their beliefs before being allowed to join the crowd. As they liked what they saw, they began to emulate his behavior, and finally--when they were convinced of his authenticity and the value of his way over other ways--they came to believe.

It seems to me that it comes down to one basic question. Do we believe because we have to in order to belong, or do we belong because we want to believe?


RevRita said...

Well said!

kathryn said...

Wonderful questions. Thank you.

I also very much appreciate the quotes by the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther. Much food for thought.

The Host's Nest said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate hearing that what I send out into the world resonates with others!