The heart-led way is a lonely path.
On the one hand, we are never actually alone because all of Creation is our friend. On the other hand, that in itself socially isolates us. The fault is with everyone else who avoids this very natural way of living, as God intended. Everyone wants a piece of Eden, but precious few are those willing to face the Flaming Sword to get it.
I certainly never set out to be a loner; it’s not my nature. It’s easily the most unpleasant aspect of my life. It has been the source of constant temptation to moral compromise just to find someone I can talk to, but it never worked, of course. At some point, I gave up and simply resigned myself to social isolation. Yes, I’m blessed with a wife who understands and sticks with me; I don’t take her for granted. I also don’t want to drag her into my personal isolation. I’m not a hermit by nature, but as the consequence of something much bigger than me.
And I couldn’t just remain silent; that’s something burned into my very existence. It’s the nature of moral truth that you simply cannot contain it within yourself. After several false starts, I came to this blog and poured out my heart to all who bothered to pass by and see. Over a period of years, I’ve gathered a few friends in the sense of people who were willing to discuss with me what matters most. It’s the singular blessing of the Internet, in the midst of all that’s wrong with it, that we who are thinly scattered can find each other.
It’s not just wishful thinking that fires my assurance God plans of bring more souls to our virtual congregation. I was ready to make the most of this odd situation, but the Lord says otherwise. Now I’m investing a lot of energy praying and thinking about how to handle an influx on any scale. The visions and dream revelations of a harvest of souls persist, but without a sense of scale. We have to be ready for anything in that sense.
I posted on the forum recently about my concerns regarding establishing unique rituals that reflect our unique approach to religion. This whole question wouldn’t matter so much if we remained a thinly scattered collection of isolated individuals, whose only communion with heart-led souls was virtual, but I’m convinced God has other plans.
And by the same token, we can never allow ourselves to forget that our core constituency will always be people who are forced into social isolation. I’m not sure how much we can do for folks who prefer that kind of isolation; those kind of have come and gone as visitors to this blog. There has to be a place for genuine loners, but it’s not their way to commit to fellowship under a covenant. We’ll bless them with whatever we can offer. Still, we will always have a significant number of people who don’t want to be alone, but the context of their life against which they are called to faith makes social isolation unavoidable.
We are blazing a trail here; this is new territory in Church History. It’s more than simply restoring the heart-led way to Christian religion, but we are starting off with virtually none of the contextual identity that limited every previous religious sect. We are self-consciously neutral, in part as a reaction to all the previous limitations we experienced that drove us out of mainstream religion. But rather than being formless and devoid of identity, we forge a new kind of religious identity based on the nascent culture of the Internet. We are approaching a turning point in human history when it’s no longer a matter of most people living double lives — online and offline — but a rising cultural identity that is rooted in the online world first, and radiates into the offline world, shaping a whole new thing.
This is possible for us because we were first alienated from our old lives by the heart-led way. Without the Internet, it would have been impossible to form a community like this. We are compelled to abandon a world that refuses to move forward, but instead of fighting that world, we simply exit to another that stands waiting and ready to be adopted and adapted. We can and must mold something altogether new. But we have some time, because God isn’t in a hurry with this. His wrath has an awful lot of work to do; there’s a whole massive forest of sin to chop down (Matthew 3:4-12).
We don’t celebrate individualism; we tolerate it as a necessity along the path. The Spirit calls our hearts to communion, first with God, and then His Creation, and finally with penitent fallen souls. We are dragging organizational theory into long-neglected territory, relearning ancient lessons written into the fabric of reality. This will isolate us at first, so we must learn to do isolation very well. We must learn a vivid individual worship and communion with Creation. Without some kind of boundaries, there is no sense of identity as the basis for living and growing. But we must study the lore of boundaries itself, so that we don’t draw them thoughtlessly.
I believe we can afford to deliberate and discern both, what we must do, and what we must leave for others to choose.