© 2016 by Charles D. Jones

The Dilemma

May 14, 2016

As an inmate at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, I seem to have ample time to remember events I've tried to forget.

For example, I was once a member of a church which faced a dilemma. It had to decide if it wanted to run smoothly or try to live out the gospel. The personalities within the church sadly made it impossible to do both. Each group feared the other, for good reason. I have to admit, at the outset I was on the fence. I ultimately had to side against the organizers, but it wasn't from some deep sense of trying to live out the gospel. The gospelers were simply much more fun to be around. Ultimately, those who wanted a smooth organization won the day, as they were just better organized. Duh. It was a painful experience for the church, as the "music died" when the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost "took the last train for the coast," to later return after a long, long, long sabbatical. But at least I learned something from it.

I learned that the grunt work of living out the Good News of God's love and mercy is often very unorganized, even messy. People's lives are often a train wreck. Children rebel. Marriages fail. People get mentally and physically ill or die when they shouldn't. We're never going to be able to manage the confusion and pain that accompanies these events on our own. We won't be able to organize our way through these events either, as the wisdom, patience, forgiveness, and strength necessary is beyond us without God.

The apostle Paul was faced with a dilemma too. He was an insider in the first century religious organization. He left that organization which provided him security, status, self-importance, and economics, leaving behind his identity when he fell in love with a God who loved him in spite of himself. The learned, murdering organizational leader became the loving follower of Jesus. He never looked back to the organization, but instead became a radical.

I've known a few radicals who have been missionaries or left secure organized religious jobs to start a new church, but I've never been much of a radical myself, as there's just no money in it. Maybe it will be easier now that I'm a convicted felon and am essentially unemployable.

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