My brother quoted one of my favorite authors (Brennan Manning) on his blog regarding the Discipleship training that TrueVine participated in this weekend. Oddly, I was reminded all weekend of a Brennan Manning quote, as well.
"I want neither a blood'n'guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero, nor a speculative religion that would imprison the Gospel in the halls of academia, nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion. I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a Church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst."
I have met so many people-- Christian and non-Christian alike-- that have expressed the same sentiments portrayed in this quote. In my entire 20 years on this earth, I have never seen with such clarity the potential of the church as I saw this weekend. I have never once felt at home at any church. God drew me out of my shell more than He has in years. I have never been able to reach beyond myself and actually volunteer to speak up in the midst of 25 other people (especially 25 people who are far more interesting and mature than I am). I have never felt quite so valuable as I did this weekend.
What's more is-- I know that my feeling valued has nothing to do with myself. This was not any normal retreat, and it didn't enforce self-confidence. It was not always a HAPPY time, and it was not constantly uplifting (or as the quote says, noisy and feel-good), but it was beautiful. It was edifying in every sense of the word. It was a group of sold-out, willing, and broken Disciples who realized that without Christ, they are nothing, but with Him they are world-changers.
He convicted, He healed, He transformed, He soothed, and He provided us we REAL smiles amidst our unity in Christ. Through this, He also revealed our potential as His Church-- as His Bride. It was stunning. It was beyond comparison to any other religious experience I have ever seen.
All weekend, the idea that "What we attract them with is what we attract them to" was repeated over and over again. I have complete confidence that the weight of the Gospel and the true love of Christian brothers and sisters that we, as the Church, saw this weekend is enough to attract, romance, and transform hearts and lives.
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