Unity over Uniformity (Abundance, meaning, worship, and mutuality)

Let’s Start with David Foster Wallace

David Foster Wallace, who is not known for his faith, per se, said “Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god … to worship … is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough…” 

David Foster Wallace February 21, 1962 – September 12, 2008

Our pastors went on tour with something like David Foster Wallace’s insight this week. We are one church in four locations. We express that by once a quarter scrambling up our four pastors among the congregations, which are in Germantown, Fishtown, South Philly, and South Jersey. On a normal Sunday the pastors give unique messages at their home congregations. We are not into the whole guy (yes, usually a guy) on a big screen being broadcast from elsewhere. I don’t know if you have seen that; I’ve seen it in person and it felt weird. No shade on my brothers and sisters, or you if you’re into that, though.

We’re going for a personal church

We’re committed to face-to-face. Each of us pastors has our own style, but we all have the same heart. We work on it face to face in our weekly meetings. Probably the most important part is when we ask one another about the state of our souls. (Shout out to John Wesley who gave us the question!) We share our struggles and our insights from God. We get on the same page, sync up, collaborate. We are trying to be of one mind, without demanding uniformity. Unity is about love, not rules, regulations, and prerequisites.

That kind of mutuality depends on God’s abundance. It’s the alternative to the money and things we worship that only yield the “never enough” that David Foster Wallace was talking about. Here’s a challenge: listen to all four of our messages from this past Sunday (find them at circleofhope.net/messages) and tell us how we synced up (BTW we started a new podcast)

From left to right: Ben White (me), Jonny Rashid, Julie Hoke and Rachel Sensenig

We need each other to receive (and remember) God’s best

We were all trying to wrestle with the reality I think everyone feels at some level, and David Foster Wallace described pretty well—there is never enough. It is easy to get stuck in only experiencing our lives on a scale between scarcity and excess. But Jesus offers us abundance that is based on God’s eternal love and not on the finite resources whose limits we are always running into. Shifting our minds and hearts from collection to connection—from striving for more and some future happiness to resting in what we have and acting now to share the happiness we’ve received. It’s a major shift. We need a community, an environment, to constantly suggest this alternative vision to us. We have learned that to separate ourselves from God and God’s people—to stop working as hard as we do for the unity God desires for us—would be choosing to be eaten alive.

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