Thursday, November 16, 2006

We Need More of This

Andree Seu writes wonderful, insightful, challenging, convicting, and powerful columns that appear in World. In the November 4th edition, her article is entitled, "Drastic in Love." She tells a bit of the story of Republican Representative Jim Ramstad (Minnesota) and Democrat Representative Patrick J. Kennedy (Rhode Island). The two congressmen meet every Tuesday night at a Washington D.C. restaurant to encourage and strengthen each other in their battle against alcoholism (they meet as part of their involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous).

Seu then quotes the comments of Samuel Shoemaker, rector of Calvary Church in New York City, after he had seen AA at work in 1935.

"The first thing I think the Church needs to learn from AA is that nobody gets anywhere till he recognizes a clearly defined need. These people do not come to AA to get made a little better. They do not come because the best people are doing it. They come because they are desperate. They are not ladies and gentlemen looking for a religion; they are utterly desperate men and women in search of redemption. Without what AA gives, death stares them in the face. With what AA gives them, there is life and hope. There are not a dozen ways, there are not two ways, there is one way; and they find it or perish..."

"The second thing the Church needs to learn from AA is that men are redeemed in a life-changing fellowship. AA does not expect let anybody who comes in to stay as he is. They know he is in need and must have help. They live for nothing else but to extend and keep extending that help. Like the Church, they did not begin in glorious Gothic structures, but in houses or caves in the earth...[An AA's] soul gets kept in order by trying to help other people get their souls in order, with the help of God...He may be changed today, and out working tomorrow - no long, senseless delays about giving away what he has got."

Shoemaker's statements sounds a lot like what the church ought to be - a life-changing fellowship of men and women who are convinced they're sinners in desperate need of redemption. Not only that, but a place where we "help other people get their souls in order." We need a lot more of this in the church today.


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