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Christianity in Detox

Friday, 9 April 2010  | Ian Robinson, Chaplain, University of WA, former church planter and pastor

Well, you see,.. yes, no,  it’s not my first time. Last time it lasted a while but I relapsed.


And the time before that? You have a history here, am I right?


Same story, got out, went clean for a while, eventually had everyone liking me and it was too much. I self-destructed. Got too cocky.


Tough story, but I think we can all identify with that. And what was the form of your addiction?


I …churched. I always said I could stop anytime I wanted, that the people mattered more than the programme, that I needed this church growth just to get through this hard time. But it was a lie, I know that now.


Do you?


Yes all right! Maybe the people didn’t matter at all. Maybe I just kept them pleased. Maybe it didn’t matter whether they grew or deepened or any blood-matter, just so long as they kept their noses clean and supported the system.  We called it “vision”. It was just, I apologize for the language, but I have to let it out, it was just “words”.


Yes, er, well we all have to let it out sometime, even “words” is not too much for us in this gathering. I can hear you have really been to the bottom here, Chris.


No it got worse. The leaders were over-committed – they were all running on empty, and I was still addicted to churching words. They got sick of me supporting every war that Australia went to, and throwing their sons at machine guns. They got annoyed at me talking morality but being judgemental. They just kept on singing and I just kept up the old fashioned oratory, and the museum buildings and the children’s programmes that were educationally useless.  How did those poor children put up with those stupid pictures and the answer always is “Jesus”? What possessed us?


Go on. You are showing a real understanding now, Chris.


It was starting to show.  My friends begged me to stop and listen.  But… I upped the dose. I did songs with a bigger band and a different beat, I did video I did audio, I did clapping, I did street parades with FM radio, I protested sex legislation and ignored the economic ones.  I even started Christian schools and Christian radio stations and TV stations and Christian political parties. (Sob) I know I know … I knew no shame. I watched as good men and women burned out at a great rate. It was words., It was churching bloodless words.  Couldn’t get enough. It was killing me, I knew that deep down. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror, so I conducted surveys instead. More words.


Do you need to take a breath here, Chris, think about those who really love you right now and the health that they are hoping for you.


Yes, thanks, phew, didn’t know I had it in me.  I’m here in detox because I know they love me. They talk of wanting to see the “old me” when we lived in Galilee Street.  It’s really sweet of them, but that’s gone. I realized in the darkness last night that I can’t go back to the Galilee days now.


Chris, I’ve got a tough question I ‘d like to ask. You may not be ready to answer it now. But you are showing such clarity today, I would like to give it a go. What’s the old you that holds the key to the new you?


I remember meeting the master in the Word and talking with him on a sand dune. Those two. I had a few friends, and we just accepted that we were just beginners - we did some dumb funny things ‘cause we were happy.  A bit naïve, maybe too much sweetness and light. Master was always there. That’s it. Seems long ago in one way.


But it is present now too?


He was there last night, in the darkness last night when I think about it. Same, but very different. I don’t know. I’m not used to admitting to darkness. I ‘m afraid to let everyone down.  Do you think I’ll ever be really well again?


Not for me to say, Chris. But I am hearing some good things. That’s enough for today. I can see you are very tired.


Blood oath I am.   Hey, I did a blood thing, not just words. Did you hear that? Blood oath. There’s hope for me yet.


Ian Robinson was formerly an evangelism consultant in NSW, church-planter in Perth, and senior pastor on Sydney's North Shore. He takes people on desert retreats www.desertjourneys.com, and is active with Stolen Generations Alliance. Lately, he has been revising and expanding his workshop "Gossiping the Gospel" and called it "Makes You Wonder". Check www.talltrees.org.au


Lisa Hall
April 14, 2010, 5:20PM
Wow, Ian, long time no see!

Thanks for the reflection - Dave and I are about to leave our church and start a house church where we live, a little community called Eungai Creek on the mid-north coast of NSW.

Your article cuts to the core - we are about relationships, not structure, not even "vision". Just relationships, based on grace, mercy and love.

Thanks and peace

Lisa Hall
Nick Truscott
May 18, 2010, 6:30PM
Great article - just wonder how many people read it, understood it, fell on their knees to the Lord and then did something about it!

(Webmaster - might be an idea to to show how many 'views' against these articles?)

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