"It finally hit me what was bothering me about this self-styled religion he had invented--he hadn't invented it at all. It was as boring and predictable as the rest of our self-centered consumer culture, and his very conceit, that this outlook was somehow original, daring, or edgy, was evidence of that very self-centeredness. If we made a church for all these spiritual but not religious people, if we got them all together to talk about their beliefs and their incredibly unique personal religions, they might find out that most of America agrees with them. But they'll never find that out. Why? Because getting them all together would be way too much like church. And they are far too busy being original to discover that they are not.
But here in church, we hear scriptures like the one we heard today that tell us that originality and isolation are not the answer, where Jesus says to ordinary, fallible Peter, 'Upon this rock I will build my church.' In other words, you people are stuck with one another... (11-12)"
She continues: "In the church, as everywhere we are stuck with one another, and being stuck with one another, we don't get the space to come up with our human-invented God. Because when you are stuck with one another, the last thing you would do is invent a God based on humanity. In church, in community, humanity is just way too close to look good... (13)"
Finally, she concludes, "I don't need to invent God, because God has already invented me. I don't need to make all this up for myself. There's a community of folks who, over thousands of years, have followed a man who was not lucky, who, in the scheme of luck, was decidedly unlucky. But in the scheme of the church he was willing to die alongside the unlucky, to be raised from the dead, and to point out in that action that there is much more to life than you could possibly come up with. And as for the resurrection, try doing that for yourself.
Around that resurrection assumption, that humbling realization that there are in fact some things we simply cannot do for ourselves, raising the dead being the big one, around that humbling notion, communities of human beings have worked together and feuded together and just goofed up together, but we do it together because Jesus did it with these same types of people."
One reason I love the Heidelberg Catechism is because it begins with the rest and comfort we can have when we stop trying to create ourselves and we rest in the fact that God creates us and calls us into covenantal response. When our life is "hidden with Christ in God," (Col. 3:3) we recognize that true freedom and identity that comes from being called children of God (1 John 3:1).
Q & A 1
Q. What is your only comfort
in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
body and soul,
in life and in death--
to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.
Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.
Relatedly, check out the post on the Christ and Pop Culture blog on Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck and Our Selfish Obsession with Authenticity