Saturday, October 6, 2012

Church is the Compost Bin for Human Garbage

Think of the human soul as a plant. The natural man, the one we know as our inner self, is fallen and sinful and good for nothing that is holy. Yet, this inner man is the rich stuff of humanity. Our ability to love and be compassionate, our ability to empathize, our desire to be helpful and supportive of others was a part of creation before the fallen creature became what humans are. We were created in His image, right? Now all this good stuff is destined to be used for selfish ends. Manipulation and coercion in the name of love, those pressuring expectations we resist from people around us yet continue to foist on others, all stem from our selfish desires mixed with our ability to love. We often believe we have another's best interests in mind, but our whole perspective is usually tainted to one degree or another with our own limited understandings. These limits are usually a manifestation of our self will.

We experience the spiritual birth and freedom from self given to us by an act of grace. We become a different plant in our souls--the new creature--but we fail the purity of the love of God often and adopt the stance, "It's a process." The composting metaphor is about this Christian growth process.

The compost pile achieves its wondrous reduction of organic wastes into a rich additive for garden soil by aeration. There are other factors, of course, but that exposure to oxygen enhances the effectiveness of the compost pile. That's why our ceramic, under the counter composter has holes in the lid. That's why our back yard bin has the grid system of vents on all four sides and from top to bottom. Exposure to oxygen is necessary. 

Remember I mentioned the odor sometimes in the under-the-sink container? That's because those holes on the top are a marketing feature. They don't work. There is not nearly enough aeration from these holes, especially as the container fills up. The stuff on the bottom has little air and rots without actually "composting." Those lid holes allow the label to read "kitchen composter" and not simply "multi-use ceramic container". The price is raised, as the container with the holed lid has "value" beyond what it actually is. I've seen this item at $15.00 in most stores. The phrase "Buyer Beware" comes to mind. (Ours was a gift.)

Our Christian journey is like this. We all know and understand the principle of confession. However, in application, we often regard confession as necessary once we have actually sinned. I think our sinful nature needs a place of open sharing on an on-going basis. We need Christian brethren to provide a place of exposure for willful thinking and desire, our sin nature, without judgment or censure. We need acceptance from others for the fallen creature we are. I am not condoning, condoning sin. Rather, I am suggesting a greater level of honesty. Because we fear condemnation from others in our Christian groups for having the thoughts that spring from a sinful nature, we only discuss this reality in guarded ways if at all. The result is our sinful nature doesn't get the exposure it needs to decompose. Exposed in discussion in a safe environment, we gain knowledge that others are experiencing the same and see we are not alone or different. This builds understanding of others and camaraderie between folks, and our sin nature weakens through an exchange that allows us space to deconstruct our feelings and motivations looking for the selfishness to admit in confession. A confession that comes before we act out that selfishness.

What's left in this process is an awareness of our core ability to love and an understanding of how to be angry without sinful attitudes; we gain a connection to our human ability of empathy without a need to manipulate others. By contrast, when we allow ourselves confession only after sin has occurred, it is a bit like those holes in our under the sink ceramic composter. It looks like aeration for the soul's need, it is marketed as such, but deep inside the container, the rot flourishes.

God's Spirit moved to reveal Himself to us; we responded by accepting the atonement. Salvation is the result. However, life within the Body of Christ is the functioning of a sanctification process which is intended to help us deconstruct the power of the fallen nature. We embrace this process fully as individuals through a group dynamic. We willingly create a Christian social climate that fosters mutual admissions of our fallen natures as a daily reality...or we only cautiously give lip service to the same which stumbles us all.  In open climates without judgment, we discover between us a patient love for who we are as fallen beings, and there grows freedom from the fallen state.

Individuals so connected to others will find worship in spirit and truth of our Creator in the prayer closet and throughout the day. When our earthly attitudes are being composted through aeration among brethren, we find ourselves more able to draw sustenance from Him, more connected to His purity and strength, and we become more spiritually skilled at abiding on His stem resulting in a flourishing of spiritual fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in abundance.

We by grace are connected to Him, and in a responsible manner among ourselves, we practice spiritual principles of forbearance and honesty. Then our core human abilities draw life and direction from the stem of the Spirit of God rather than from the spirit of the world which burdens us. We discover a vitally different source of nutrition for our souls.

Church is a compost bin for humans.


craigvick said...

Thanks, that was well written. It gives me much to think about. I wonder if our difficulty in being open and honest is more than a fear of condemnation. For myself, I think there's a lack of trust.

postmodern redneck said...

Craig, trust is something that takes time to build, and is easier to break than to build. And in many situations, including in churches, we are thrown together and expected to be open without taking the time and effort to build the necessary trust to make it work. Many of us, especially in church leadership, are in a hurry and (sadly)too lazy to take the time to do it right.

craigvick said...

Good point Postmodern Redneck, It does take time.

ded said...

Yes, it does take time and the trust must build. These two functions seem suited to small groups that remain committed to fellowship across much time. We cannot recreate the first century church, but we must identify the attributes which are universal across time and culture. Daily meeting over the breaking of bread seems hard to recreate in our situation, but the intimacy that such contact fostered may be approached if we will recognize that is our goal. Perhaps we can find a greater level of both logical exegesis and trusting hearts by purposing to find them in a consistent but not daily exchange.

It appears to me, the trust issue reveals that our trust must be in God not fallen humans. As such, we are equipped to take the plunge into openness and let the humans with chips on the spirit chew on the example.

I don't share this necessarily from a position of faith myself. I am one guarded individual, or so I observe myself to be in personal interactions. But in acknowledging our failings, we accept His strength to move forward. I want to move forward as I believe there is state of grace greater than I currently experience which is known in the freedom of truth.

Thank you to both of you cv and pm for sharing your thoughts here with me.