We had another Encounters with Jesus night last night. We did the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus from Martha's point of view. You can find it here. Everyone was there, and it was a sweet time of fellowship. It has been so amazing to watch God working through these stories and working to develop community.
We set out with the goal of introducing people to Jesus - to who he said he was. I think we picked some really powerful stories. Last night we really hit on spiritual life and death and how that compares to physical life and death. There were some great questions from people about why Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. We also had an interesting time imagining what it might have been like to be Lazarus. We wondered if he had any memory of his time being dead. But probably the most interesting conversation happened around Jesus weeping. We talked about the possibility that he was weeping because he was sad for the loss of his friend. We talked about how much he knew of the future--did he know he was going to raise Lazarus at that time or not? And we talked about how the commentaries explained that he may have been weeping at the brokenness of the world and the fact that it's so far outside of what God designed life to be like.
From a practical point of view, we're struggling a little bit now with the mixture of some people of long-time faith and some of newer (ie, since the group has started meeting) faith. We actually have at least one attender who is not post-modern/post-Christian and who sees the world in a very structured way. This attender's certainty about how God interacts in life has caused at least one other attender to wonder whether he's able to hear God in his life at all. Because he's not certain, he questions the reality of God's interaction in his life. But I can tell you (and him) that I have seen an amazing shift since the time we've been meeting in his life and his orientation toward God. There is a totally different spirit of question now. At some point in this process, he moved from questioning whether God was real to questioning how to invite God into his life and how to hear from God. So it's going to be really important for me, I think, to meet one-on-one with him to share a different, less structured approach to faith.
This, I think, is one of the most major struggles that a church that's reaching post-Christian people is going to face. The language of the long-time Christians to describe their spiritual existence has worked for them. It makes sense to them. But that language actually has a tendency to either alienate the post-Christian person or to make them question whether they are able to have a relationship with God at all.
So that's where we're at right now. We have just one more week of Encounters with Jesus. But I think the group is kind of taking off, and I think that we'll keep meeting after that. So watch for the final installment in a couple of weeks.