Wayne Jacobsen recently posted a blog entitled "Live in Love - A Message from the Sudan." If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend reading it as well as the comments that were made. In this post, I want to focus on a comment that was made by the The Other Pam.
She said, "Are the institutions and structures the source of the problem or are they simply the result of people who don't understand how deeply they are loved? Our problem is our relationship to our Father."
I think she made a great point. Those of us who have seen behind the control and manipulation that is often characteristic of the system can develop negative feelings toward it and blame it for our lack of growth as believers. While I believe the system has done little to help us grow and fully mature and, at times, has actually hindered that growth, I agree with Pam that there is a deeper problem and, if that is not corrected, it will show up in other areas of our lives.
She explains further, "I was even religious in a secular institution, still trying to earn the love of other people and Father. Leaving religious institutions only does me a moderate amount of good. I can be religious anywhere; I excel at it."
The basic problem is not our tendency to set up systems and structures. That tendency is merely a symptom of a deeper problem. As she pointed out, the real problem is our relationship with Father. As long as we remain insecure about his love for us, we'll continue to try to find ways to satisfy that need. We'll look to other people for validation and we'll try to find our significance in what we do rather than in what Jesus has done. Institutions provide the perfect environment to feed that need and, in them, we'll find people who are more than happy to take advantage of our need for validation in order to satisfy their need to control.
Since the source of our problem is our relationship with Father, the only cure is to correct that relationship. That will never happen, however, until we come to understand that his love for us is totally unconditional. I've heard Steve McVey say, "We didn't do anything to make him love us and we can't do anything to make him stop loving us."
Father's love for us is not based on what we can do; it's based on what Jesus has already done. Nothing else is needed. However, until we're secure in that love, we'll continue to build institutions and look to others for our validation. True healing and victory will only come when we realize that these are poor substitutes. Nothing else can provide the security we need except to experience Father's love and to rest in the finished work that Jesus has already done.