Like being intwined in seaweed, or brambles in the forest, we Christians are often entangled in things that make it hard to walk the path of truth. We get into men’s teachings, and follow men. We get into the world’s ways, become woven together with these ways. Soon, they become a part of us, like barnacles on a whale, entwined and braided, the thorns have broken off and splinter inside. Cutting ourselves free will hurt. I can say, when I read about influences in the church these days I see this entanglement. Entanglement with the mystics and the belief that it is supposed to be a part of Christianity. The claim that to be deeper with Christ we must pracitice spiritual disciplines. I thought Christ was our mediator, and that nothing we do can save us. The sacrifices desired are a “broken and contrite heart….” and not contemplation.
From personal experience, I saw entanglement coming from my very own pastors. If writers like Nouwen, Willard, Hybels, and Warren are producing good fruit, then why do pastors who are following after them continue to loose long time Christians who are serious about following after God? It is not the numbers that are the measure of fruit, but I believe (and I am not God so anyone out there can correct me on this) that wise people will stick with a wise pastor if God doesn’t call them to something else. If you are loosing elder members, you might consider why. If a church looks like the world, then it might as well be the world.
The entanglement is confusing. I have asked elders and pastors about contemplative prayer. I’ve gotten some interesting answers.
“Do not let terminology frustrate you, the Bible speaks about contemplation” (this also included transformation and meditation). My question further would be “does it include spiritual formation?” We didn’t ask much about that as we had enough issues…
The lead pastor of our former church said, “If you are referring to lectio divina, it’s been around since the Reformation.” Interesting. Many things have been around since even before the Reformation, and that doesn’t make them right.
I have heard other unsatisfactory responses when it comes to such entanglements. “Why would you attack a ministry that has done so much to advance the kingdom” and there’s always the “you’re being unloving.”
It hurts when people pull on the tangles, no one ever likes the rats brushed out. It can pull and hurt. Cutting out the cancer and treating it hurts. What is hard, is that we were warned the weeds would grow among the fields. We are to snatch some from the flames, but we will not be able to untangle all the knots until the return of our risen Lord. This hurts all the more. We can do our part, and it will not be enough but we are still called to do it. It is finished in Christ Jesus.
Sadly, I have to admit I am entangled too. The world is on me, though I am cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. I pick up a thorn here, a barnacle there. I get caught up too. I am sure the first thing that will happen after I rejoice in seeing Jesus is sheer on my face mourning. At least for the second He allows it. I so long to be untangled.