• Brian E Pearson

Asking Too Much

Updated: Aug 4, 2019

An old American Gospel song from the 1920's got it right:

You've got to walk that lonesome valley

You've got to walk it by yourself

Nobody else can walk it for you

You've got to walk it by yourself.


Woody Guthrie, walking it by himself. Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Maybe, in all our recent disappointments with the church, we were in the first place asking too much of it. Maybe it was never capable of being all things to all people. Maybe its recent bungling of the vote on same-sex marriage only serves to remind us that, whatever the church tells itself, and the world, about its grand mission, it is still a very human, very fallible, institution incapable of embodying the truths it preaches.


And if that's true, then we are back to where we started, before truth-tellers and miracle workers told us they knew the way. Each of us must find our own way. Each of us must work out our own salvation, albeit "in fear and trembling," as the apostle Paul said. The church was never meant to be a holiness club for those who'd found the way but, rather, a gathering place for those still looking for it.


Jesus pointed beyond himself to a sacred realm he called the Kingdom of God. He said it is right here, right now, if only we have the eyes to see it, the ears to hear. But we picked up his message about the Kingdom, and then made it all about him, about his death for our sakes, about his resurrection, and about the mechanics of salvation. By focussing on him--"What would Jesus do?"--have we forsaken the one thing he was was trying to show us? Shouldn't we be looking, instead, in the direction he was pointing?


The Kingdom of God is very close, Jesus said. It's "at hand." So, turn away from wherever it is you think you're going, and believe this good news. But know this. As surely as you may want someone else to tell you what to think, and what to do, and where to go, nobody else can walk it for you. You've got to walk it by yourself.

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