After reading the responses to my last post, it’s clear that a lot of us agree about the need to be realistic about the predictable downsides and disappointments of church life. But at the same time we don’t think that lowering our expectations of one another is the way to go. We share a vision for what growing together in the values, attitudes, and mission of Christ could mean.
So here’s something I’ve been thinking about. To address the need for more realism and spiritual idealism, what if we learned back from 12 step groups what the founders of AA originally learned from the the Church? I’m not saying that our church meetings should mirror a 12 step group. But what if we had the same sense of brokenness, urgency, and life-long commitment as those who hit bottom and then find ways of helping one another to rise above our inclination to live self-centered, faithless, hopeless, and loveless lives? What if we built back into 12 steps the Christ-centered roots they came from so that we could honestly and repeatedly say–through our church experience– for the rest of our lives:
1. We admitted we were powerless over our inclination live for ourselves at the expense of others.
2. Came to believe that Jesus could restore us to spiritual sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as he has revealed himself in his written and living word.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God develop within us the attitudes of Christ.
7. Humbly asked him to do in us what we cannot do for ourselves.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation in the Scriptures to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12.Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of our shared accountability, we committed ourselves, with God’s help to carry this message to those who are still as hopeless as we once were without Christ, and to practice his principles in all of our affairs.
My question to you is this: Is there something about these “refurbished” 12 Steps that could help us to be more realistic about ourselves, while at the same time raising our expectations and hopes for one another? Do you see anything here that might have been lost along the way? Or would you see the suggestion as the equivalent of 12 Steps backward– as far as the church is concerned?