[Editor’s Note: Thank you for the Hutchmoot reactions you’ve all been posting. I’ve tried to read them all and I’ve enjoyed each of them. Alyssa Ramsey sent this to me last night. She’s done a good job of capturing my own thoughts, so I thought I’d post it here. Thanks, Alyssa. –Pete Peterson]
A few days ago I wrote a blog post reflecting on the Hutchmoot weekend. When I finished it and read back over my own words, it was like hoping for an Evie Coates feast but being served Vienna sausages and old socks instead. I had proved Pete Peterson right. At Hutchmoot 2011 he said, “The reader can easily hear the moment you stop telling the truth.”
Those words had nagged at me as I attempted to put the experience into written form. I knew I was not telling the truth—at least not about this year. I was writing what was true a year ago, what I wished were still true, what I thought you would believe.
The truth is, Hutchmoot was a battle for me this year. Not every moment, but some of them. The trouble wasn’t the planning, or the sessions, or the speakers, or the food. It certainly wasn’t the fellowship. It was that I expected you to be Jesus, and you were not.
I want you to know I love you all. Many of you have become friends. And even those of you I haven’t met are brethren to me, dear ones with whom I share the kinship of Christ and rabbits. The time spent in your company was a deep pleasure and our conversations were a delight. But in the quiet moments when I faced my thoughts alone, the enemy assailed me.
You don’t belong here.
You’re a fraud, and they know it.
They don’t want to talk to you, they’re just too polite to walk away.
I sat in on Russ Ramsey’s Friday morning devotion and heard him say, “It doesn’t matter what others think of you. It doesn’t even matter what you think of you. Ultimately, what God thinks of you is all that matters” (from 1 Cor. 4:3-4).
Yes! I thought. I knew it was true. I found momentary comfort in those words. Yet deep down I harbored the suspicion that God’s thoughts toward me needed to be proved by his saints. And so I set you up for failure.
No community of humans can fill a soul’s cavernous longing. They can encourage you, affirm you, support and serve you, and point you toward your purpose. All of this you did. But even the most genuine, loving community will always fail to fill our deepest longings. It must. This is by God’s good design. In his opening remarks, Andrew Peterson read a quote from George MacDonald, part of which said: “In every man there is a loneliness, an inner chamber of peculiar life into which God only can enter.” Community has limits because God will not let his children settle for less than himself.
As far as I understand it, God often uses community to draw us to himself, but never to satisfy us. In many ways it is an avenue through which Christ reveals himself to us. But when it is asked to play a part that only Christ can fill, it becomes an idol. This is true of any community—a homeschool group, a sports team, a Bible study class, a band, a writers’ club, a family. These were never meant to substitute for Jesus, or even to supplement him. They were meant to be a fleshing out of divine character: the mind and body of Christ in action.
It seems to me that the danger is in allowing a community to function as Christ rather than to demonstrate Christ. When we depend on it for our worth rather than letting it simply remind us what we’re already worth in Christ, we’ve stumbled. To ask any community to be our all in all, even unconsciously, is an injustice, a delusion, and a sin.
But God is gracious. Because of his great love, he will allow the communities we idolize to leave us in our insecurities. As Phil Vischer said (if you took notes you can give me the exact quote), God cares far more about owning our hearts than about giving us our dreams—even dreams as small as inclusion and recognition among groups of admirable rabbit-humans.
I haven’t told you this for the fun of a public confession. The thought of you reading it nauseates me. I still feel the need to assure you that when I spoke with you last weekend, my heart was full of love and admiration. That is true. But much of the time, the voices of insecurity and fear nibbled at the back of my mind, until in the post-Moot letdown they came raging to the surface. They roared in my ears as I wrote a dishonest essay.
But louder still, another voice persuaded me that I’m not the only one—that someone besides me has wept more since Hutchmoot than they did during it. That the lies have chased others home as well. That someone else needs to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think of you. It doesn’t even matter what you think of you. Ultimately, what God thinks of you is all that matters.
And what does he think?
That you are the righteousness of God in Christ. Chosen and dearly loved. His radiant bride.
So how did Hutchmoot change me this year? By not filling my deepest longing. By reminding me that no human being, even the most gracious and loving, will ever fill it. By leaving me only one option: Christ.
To my fellow Hutchmooters: I demanded the impossible, and for that I ask your forgiveness. But you were a vessel of Christ’s love and discipline to me, so for that I thank you.
From now on, can we be nothing more to each other than what Christ says we are? Because what we are is enough: fellow travelers, and a holy family, and a royal priesthood.
And Jesus is King.
[Photo by Mark Geil]