I have had a great time reading so many things on the material/immaterial world and on the exterior/interior life of the Church. Then recently I began reading up on the exterior expression of the Church–which belongs, I think, to the material world. I read that people like me, who came out of Protestantism, bring a rich interior life. Yes, it is VERY true that I have a richer interior life than most people I know who come from the exterior expressions of “Church.” On the negative side, some who place great emphasis on belonging to the exterior, “correct” form of Church might say I am like a monkey with no soul, because there is no exterior to my walk.
So recently, I began investigating churches that seem to have a rich exterior. But when I consider that in the eyes of some I have virtually no soul, I wonder why is it that without understanding rules and regulations of the exterior Church, I can depend on the Lord to guide me apart from my understanding and He does it? There is no sola scriptura here and no private interpretation of scipture, but an unfolding of the next right thing from “beyond”–as the Israelites followed the cloud by day and the fire by night, not knowing where they were going. I see “God” in this and others see “delusion”. Meanwhile, I know so many from the exterior churches who are so confused. They have no compass and no sense of God’s leading.
This must get into faith. Our faith belongs to Jesus, not to ourselves and not to our exterior Church.
A friend wrote me last night and said:
“Every group has reasons they are distinguished as the only one. They have text evidence to support it. They believe it with all their heart. If they are seeking God - they are His. If they are seeking to be right - I think they have their reward.”
I think my friend hit it on the head. “If they are seeking God–they are His.” Many seek to be right. Many seek after the perfect church. How many seek after God? And if I am right and the important thing is to seek after God, then how does that affect our role within the exterior Church? Are we walking the path just because we observe the exterior? Or can it be a way to bury our heads in the sand?
Let us say we have two people: Alice and Jack. Alice is in the correct Church. She brags that her church is the best, the original, the most righteous. Jack also believes this about his church. But one day Jack experiences a dramatic conversion and sees that the Alice’s church is correct, objectively speaking. So Jack converts. Jack really “sees” in his interior all the truths of this Church. Meanwhile, Alice–a cradle member of the same church is smugly self-satisfied that she is in the correct church. However, Alice is no more enlightened about being in the right Church than Jack was when he believed he was in the correct Church before he saw the light and converted. So let’s say that Jack now serves God in an exterior church because of an interior light. But Alice, who believes she is in the correct church, actually has no interior light because she just believes what she has always been taught. So let’s say she really is in the right place, but she has experienced no transformation for all that, having received no inner light on it. I should think that Jack has the greater light and renders God the greater service for it.
I phrase things in this way as I realize my own imbalance in having a rich interior to the near exclusion of an exterior. As I have considered the possibility of which exterior expression to choose, the question of “What things should I consider in making a choice?” came up. And in considering, I realized that an exterior, while very good, would be no match for anything without the strong interior world I bring to the faith. In fact, I rather think that a strong exterior without an interior would be no true faith at all.
(Sorry to sound like a mental case with these comments. It’s complicated.) I just wondered if others struggle with this very mental application of choice. I actually feel a lot of peace with my interior. It’s my exterior that has me worried, as I realize how much I have neglected the material world–I think it’s a heresy, but for me it came unconsciously as a rejection of material pain in the world.