It is rare to find an established community of Christians that encourages radical expressions of following Jesus. The natural conservatism of institutions is deeply rooted in the desire to survive, and that desire colors and limits the way they read the Bible and how they see God functioning in the world.
.. The powerful changes that happen in the life of a disciple never come from the disciple working hard at doing anything. They come from arriving at a place where Jesus is everything, and we are simply overwhelmed with the gift. Sometimes it seems as if God loves us too much. His love goes far beyond our ability to stop being moral, religious, obedient, and victorious, and we just collapse in his arms. Out of the gospel that Jesus is the only Mediator between God and humanity comes a Christian life that looks like Jesus, a life Jesus would recognize. It's a life that looks like Jesus, because Jesus does everything, and all we do is accept his gift. And to accept his gift, we have to give up trying to be Jesus. Out of that discovery comes a Christian life that is free from the tyranny of unnecessary adjectives - even my preferred modified, Jesus-shaped - and simply follows after the One who loves us beyond words or repayment.
.. The incarnation is the complete refutation of every human system and institution that claims to control, possess, and distribute God. Whatever any church or religious leader may claim in regard to their particular access to God or control over your experience of God, the incarnation is the last word: God loves the world. God came into the world in the form of the people he created, the human race (including you and me), who bear his image. God's creation of humanity in his image gives hints of who he is, since we all are marked by his fingerprints. But as flawed humans, we give only a vague hint of God. Our broken reflection of God's image is easily drowned out by our broken humanity. Then, two thousand years ago, God came in his fullness. He came to all of us in Jesus. The incarnation is not owned, trademarked, or controlled by any church. It belongs to every human being. The incarnation is not something that requires a distributor or middleman. It is a gracious gift to every person everywhere, religious or not. God gave himself to us in Jesus.
I see the Christian world like this: we've inherited a divided map of the truth, and each of us has a piece. Our traditions teach us that no one else has a valid map and that our own church's piece shows us all the terrain and roads that exist. In fact, there is much more terrain, more roads, and more truth for us to see if we can accept and read one another's maps, fitting them together to give us a clearer picture of the larger Christian tradition.
At the foundation of the Christian life, there is a kind of sacred individuality, a sort of holy aloneness that cries out to be left alone with God. This isn't all of the Christian life. It doesn't erase those parts of a Christian's experience that happen in the context of relationships, but this sacred solitude needs to be discovered, respected, and protected. It is that place where we most irrefutably hear God tell us that he loves us, and we come to know that, no matter what other people may say about us or do to us, God will not abandon us. That holy solitude is the place where we find God's Spirit changing our affections and redirecting our identities. It is, for Jesus-followers, holy ground.