How can we avoid The Drift?
My off-the-cuff answer over they years has been: ask God’s help, embrace the spiritual disciplines, and lean on the community God provides.
I still think that’s a good off-the-cuff answer, but I had it challenged this week. A student at an event we were doing pointed out that the community can also cause and reinforce The Drift. She told a story about her experience as a lesbian, rejected by church people, dropped as soon as she came out.
This is The Drift in action. The Drift poisons community.
If you drift into the moral place, the behavior-oriented place and you find likeminded people, a dangerous dynamic kicks into gear. In order to stay in the community, you have to maintain a certain level of performance, live according to the rules. Now, in the Christian community, when we talk about standards, we normally talk about the need for perfection. Sin can be defined as underperformance.
In this dynamic, three things happen to us:
We hide our failures behind a façade of perfection
We create new rules, rules that we can actually keep
We kick people out of our community for not keeping the rules
This happened over and over again to the detriment of Israel’s mission in the Old Testament. This happened in the community in which Jesus grew up. This happens today.
But it doesn’t have to.
If we’re in the relational place, the identity-oriented place and we find likeminded people, a beautiful dynamic kicks into gear. In order to stay in the community, all we have to do is remain in relationship, live a loved life. Now, in the Christian community, when we talk about relationship, we talk about a God who loves unconditionally. So the whole thing goes in a different direction.
It’s this God who can protect us from The Drift. It’s this God who can rescue us when we’ve drifted. This is the God we see and love in Jesus Christ.