Monday, November 19, 2007

A Mouse in God's House

In a war torn land a generous landowner built an orphanage; a house for the children he would adopt. But like the spoiled children of luxury they were, they all wanted their own rooms, so they got lumber and drywall and built walls, partitions, divisions, and rooms.

Now, many of these adopted children believed that since the landowner built this house, then he was also all right with their internal renovations. But they were mistaken.

A mouse lives in the orphanage too and runs from room to room, scampers down the hallways and lives between the walls. Most of the orphans are aware of the mouse and they complain about how the mouse would eat their food. They complained about the tiny mouse droppings they would find.

Some of the orphans believe the mouse is harmless and of little consequence and tolerate its existence and allow it to live its life.

Other orphans believe it is an infestation and must be either exterminated or purged from the house.

And still others aren’t even aware of its existence at all.

None of the orphans are correct. There is not a mouse in the orphanage. There are mice! And these mice are also the landowner’s adopted children.

It is not until the orphans realize this that the true purpose of the orphanage can become apparent.

I must regretfully admit that I am not the first to use the house analogy for Christendom. C.S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity had also used the house analogy, but to a slight different tangent:

It is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try the various doors, not a place to live in. for that purpose the worst of the rooms (whichever that may be) is, I think, preferable. It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. When you do get into your room you will find that the long wait has done you some kind of good which you would not have had otherwise. But you must regard it as waiting, not as camping. You must keep on praying for light: and, of course, even in the hall, you must begin trying to obey the rules which are common to the whole house. And above all you must be asking which door is the true one; not which pleases you best by its paint and paneling. In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me towards this is my reluctance to knock at this door due to my pride, or my mere taste, or my personal dislike of this particular door-keeper?’

When you have reached your own room, be kind to those who have chosen different doors and to those who are still in the hall. If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are you enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.

It is quite interesting. He is using the angle that once an individual becomes a Christian, they enter into the house but stand in the entrance foyer, where all other doors open from; or possibly float down several hallways visiting a few different rooms. It is an extremely good analogy, but I am not talking about new Christians, and he is making the assumption that the rooms in this house are rightfully there, or accepting the simple fact of the matter - right or wrong - they are there.

It is critically important to note that these various rooms within this house are there. Denominations exist. Whether we agree with it or not, whether they should or shouldn’t be, these divisions exist. I believe that C.S. Lewis’ angle in this quote is simply facing this “inevitable” fact and attempting to deal with it. However, the “A Mouse in God’s House” theory (can I really call it that?) is not accepting this fact as inevitable. Accepting this fact is practical but also following the path of least resistance. It would be the same as having a 13, 14, or 15-year old daughter, at an age when sex is becoming an issue. And deciding that a new house rule will be allow them to engage in sexual activity, but only within your house with you in the house (but in the privacy of their own room of course) and with proper protection (which you will provide, because you are a good and responsible parent). Your logic is that they are going to have sex one way or another, so you’ll give up on and accept (as “inevitable”) the lesser or two evils. I’m sorry to say this, but this is a cop out. You are not doing your job as even a mediocre parent, let alone a good and responsible one. In this difficult and awkward example there is no easy solution. The path(s) of least resistance are far too easy. Your job is not to be the friendly, buddy-buddy of you child. Your role is to be the authority figure and “lay down the law”, so to speak. However, this approach will more than likely drive your daughter out of the house and accomplish exactly what you wanted to avoid. It isn’t simple.

There are individual members of congregations (and I suppose an entire congregation is also an extreme possibility) which will go out of their way to “purge” or “exterminate” these mice. They will generally be conservative and justify their acts (of exclusion – or inclusion only through assimilation) as “keeping the faith” or maintaining the status quo. “If its not broken down fix it” is their motto.

It is a difficult situation because in moderation, they are completely correct. If we can jump analogies from the house to the human body (the Body of Christ) for a moment - in the human body there are white blood cells. They are, basically, our immune system. If a foreign particle, virus, or object enters our body (a particle they recognize as foreign) the white blood cell will arbitrarily and indifferently attack and destroy the foreign invader. It is what they do and rightfully so. They protect the body’s health, they maintain the “status quo”. Without white blood cells – or with “friendly” or very “inclusive” white blood cells – the body would become extremely sick and die.

I believe these self-appointed conservative “guardians of the faith” absolutely must be present. Without them, the Body of Christ would become extremely sick and die from external influences. However, in some disorders and diseases the human body produces too many white blood cells or white blood cells incapable of identifying foreign invaders. They eventually begin attacking the body. These disorders and diseases most often terminate in death. So, if these self-appointed “guardians of the faith” run amok they will overrun and kill the Body of Christ. If they are done away with altogether, then all sorts of foreign influences and invaders will inundate Christendom and kill it. So what is the answer? I’m not claiming to have a cut and dry answer to this problem. I don’t. It is my hope to identify this problem. I am not a pretentious man and I know all too well there are many people much better skilled and equipped to deal with finding this solution.

I believe the answer is tied in with the Mouse in God’s House. Now, bare in mind, I am not speaking necessarily of New Christians or Non-practicing Christians, or your typical Church-going Christians. I am speaking of another kind: the Rogue Christian - the mouse in God’s house.

We must understand that all analogies break down. The analogy of the white blood cell breaks down at the level of the human body is a near perfectly designed mechanism – or at least we, as Christians believe that. Although Christ may have initiated the “church”, the current state of it is by our own design

The Borg from Star Trek makes a fantastic analogy of what Christianity should not be. However, I believe for the most part Christianity has actually become very much like The Borg. You are completely welcome and invited to “Come to Jesus”, to be “born again”, and to “find God”, but it must be in the church’s way, in their tradition, by their standards. The expression “come as your are or don’t come at all” most definitely does not apply. You are welcome to “come as you are” but you must also be prepared to change, and I do not mean by the Holy Spirit. This is not acceptance, tolerance, and love. This is assimilation! Star Trek’s, The Borg have their “welcome” speech that leaves little to be guessed at. “You will be assimilated. Your uniqueness will be added to our Collective. You will service The Borg. Resistance is futile”. You will have to learn to speak “Christianese”. If you don’t care for “church-songs” or traditional hymns, then you will learn to like them – or if we’re very tolerant we might let you get away with only liking Christian music. If you don’t speak like we speak, we’ll teach you. If you don’t pray like we pray, or worship like we worship, we’ll show the right way. God has granted us all unique gifts and we will find and identify your gift to use to serve the church. You will service the church… Resistance is futile…

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