"As I think about my past attitudes and behavior in the Assembly, I can't believe how proud I was. "
Dear Wounded Pilgrim,
In our religious past we strove to maintain a standard of conduct and attitude that we were told was "Christ like", and indeed the Bible urges Christians to do just that. This past pursuit of moral excellence had some big flaws in it.
The last point needs further explanation as it is not a broadside against all Assembly folks as being phony Geftakys members, but an experience all Christians struggle with. In the Assemblies that I was in, the dynamics were certainly strongly supportive of the hypocrisy I mentioned, but it is a common Christian experience.
I believe that honesty is the start to the practical work of the Holy Spirit in a believers life. God works from the inside out to create an image of Himself in our lives. Some might argue and say "Christ" is the key and we need to just "look to Him". While the statements are true they can be meaningless spiritualizing if they are not understood in relationship to the condition of my heart.
Let me explain it this way. The Spirit begins His work in us by convicting us of our sin. God is working an honest response to my true condition. God's Spirit also shows us the way he intends to deal with that sin, and we are shown Jesus Christ and Him crucified. This in turn creates a change that is manifested in my life -- an attitude of humility, gratitude, and love.
What does this have to do with the BB and the points you raised (good ones)? When I read the testimony of Kevin Welsh, Steve Irons, and others, I see the process of God doing a deep work of transformation. It isn't as if we need to promote the process of anger, going back through our past, etc. in some kind of 10-step treatment program. What is happening is that the fact of these individuals making the discovery of God in the naked honesty of their wounded souls. It ain't pretty sometimes! We must take the wounded as they come our way.
One thing just about everyone who was in the Assembly notices, who starts to think these things through is, "Man, I didn't realize how proud I was." Even the nicest ,most compliant individual from the Assembly tends to beat their chest in contrition over the lack of personal honesty regarding their inner life that they had in the Assembly.
They daily heard the Word of God and yet were unable to make some of the connection to their own lives. The new awareness that it was God knocking at their door, when they thought it was the "worldly church" that needed the correction, is a stunning revelation. Restoration from such brokenness takes some time for most and the recommendation to "get beyond it" is not what will do the trick.
It is through the help of others who understand these needs that God ministers to these hearts. We are told to weep with those that weep (not to tell them to stop weeping, or to trivialize their pain), to comfort those who need to be comforted. These are real human behaviors that reflect the work of the Holy Spirit in our relationships and what it means to be in the body of Christ. Grace is a miraculous life transforming power, but the recitation of verses alone is not the only vehicle of that grace. It is that grace in our humanity that provides the loving hand up that we all so desperately need -- the word made flesh.
May God take our wounds and create in us a sensitivity to our brethren that leads to a powerful expression of Christ's love toward others.