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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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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