Eugene Cho

who doesn’t have problems with the church?

In preparation for our faith community’s important Annual Meeting this Saturday, I thought I’d share couple quotes/read [today and tomorrow] that have given me something to ponder.  The past year has been one of the most fruitful and yet, the most spiritually challenging and exhausting year thus far in ministry [16 years].  Why?  Because “who doesn’t have problems with the church?”

Here’s today’s read from Eugene Peterson [h/t BH] – one of the more influential authors for me:

“What other church is there besides institutional? There’s nobody who doesn’t have problems with the church, because there’s sin in the church. But there’s no other place to be a Christian except the church. There’s sin in the local bank. There’s sin in the grocery stores. I really don’t understand this naïve criticism of the institution. I really don’t get it. Frederick von Hugel said the institution of the church is like the bark on the tree. There’s no life in the bark. It’s dead wood. But it protects the life of the tree within. And the tree grows and grows. If you take the bark off, it’s prone to disease, dehydration, death. So, yes, the church is dead but it protects something alive. And when you try to have a church without bark, it doesn’t last long. It disappears, gets sick, and it’s prone to all kinds of disease, heresy, and narcissism.”

This is why I believe that Church sucks but so do you.  So, let’s move on and work towards Philippians 4:8-9…

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Filed under: religion

6 Responses

  1. capt Ralph says:

    I LOVE analogies. I try to put them into perspective – how is it like and how is it NOT like. Great analogy – the church is like bark on a tree – dead but protects the living organism. Thanks for the “thought of the day”!

  2. i always like eugene peterson… but i have to disagree with this one. the thing about naive criticism is kind of a low blow. but maybe he is talking about something other than what i consider to be constructive criticism? i thought jesus and all the prophets could call the people back, challenging the status quo and sticking it to the religious people, the whole time vigorously outlining the real pathway back to God.

  3. agreed on the phil. 4 thing tho…

    we’re doing the discipline of writing down 10 things we’re thankful for every day.

  4. […] Church Vs. 17 01 2008 I’m gonna rip this one off of Eugene… because it’s one of those things you read in passing and sticks in your mind all day. […]

  5. u know, thinking about this some more, i guess peterson is saying that the word institution is not a dirty word, like so many in the current dialogue about emerging/missional/organic church treat it… i rarely hear the word institution in a neutral tone anymore.

    so i agree perhaps that the structure of church is not where the life is, and that structure protects it from “disease, heresy, and narcissism.” the structure of church is what protects the life of Christ in us when, if we were left on our own, we would cease to really spur each other on toward love and good deeds. we’re not going to become like Jesus automatically. so this was a check on my narcissism here 🙂 ouch. thanks e. cho

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Nothing grows by itself. If something matters to us, may we be intentional about growing it.

Invest. Pray. Plant. Water. Nurture. Repeat. God sees and knows us. In fact, God knows everything about us.

Not just the good we try so hard to project but even the mess we often seek to hide.

Let this soak in: Not only are we fully known but in Christ, we are fully pursued and loved.

This is grace.
Amazing grace. Hairstyles change. Sideburn fads come and go but may our commitment to love, honor, respect, and be on mission together for Christ never waver.

Thank you, Minhee. I love you so much even if you made fun of my hairstyle and sideburns. I missed you, Seattle. Grateful for a time to pray, rest, retreat, read, reflect, and sabbath. I've spent the last 12 days in the woods alone. Competely alone. It's been both haunting and refreshing. Haunting because of loneliness. Refreshing because through the silence, I am reminded - again - that I'm not alone. Emmanuel.

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