My first date with my wife was to see the movie Camelot. We sat in the balcony holding hands as Arthur and Guinevere romanced and sought to build the round table. Unfortunately Lancelot captured Guinevere’s affections and she and Lancelot betrayed Arthur. Mordred, the illegitimate son of Arthur exposed the affair with the intent of destroying Arthur and taking his throne. The end scene in the movie was on a battlefield on which Lancelot and Arthur would lead their Knights to fight to the death. Guinevere came out of the fog to reveal she had taken refuge in a convent. She wept out a movie version of repentance to Arthur, who forgave her.
Of course, the movie is fiction and most scholars regard the story as fiction as well. Arthurian scholar Norris J. Lacy commented that “Camelot, located no where in particular, can be anywhere”.
That has certainly been true in American politics with the Kennedy administration. It is often referred to as “Camelot”.
My question is this. Is that also true of some past history in denominational and church life? And if so, was it ever as good as some remember? I hear people talk about the “old days”. In my own mind I have mostly been an outsider. But I have listened. And I have come to believe that much of what some talk about is Lacy’s definition of “Camelot” – located no where in particular, can be anywhere.”
Which leads to the question, ‘Is this why some insist upon swallowing camels’? Jesus refers to some in his day as “blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” (Matthew 23:24). What was the problem in Matthew 23? Seven woes are pronounced upon those who preach but do not practice (23:3).
You see, Camelot exists only in the imagination. No doubt there have been good times and bad times in history, but we do not live in history. We are informed and somewhat shaped by it, but we live in the present and prepare for the future. The Scriptures speak of David as serving the purpose of God in his own generation, then dying (Acts 13:36).
And I remind you – Camelot did not end well and camels are very difficult to swallow!
May I offer a suggestion in the form of a question for 2010? Whether it be the local church in which we serve, the denomination, or the Great Commission Resurgence – can we find our center in Christ?
I have never doubted the inerrancy of Scripture. I learned that at my father’s knee as a child. My parents could not give theological reasons nor did they use the term “inerrancy”. But they did understand and teach that the Bible was God’s word and there was no error in Scripture. We have what God wants us to have. So, the sufficiency of Scripture was learned as a child. But as an adult I have also learned the superiority of Scripture.
If ministry methods, traditions of men, and social mores not taught in Scripture become equivalent to Scripture in our processing of discipleship and community, then are we perhaps swallowing a camel in search of a non-existent Camelot?
The revival we seek will only come when the Christ of the Bible is at the center. We can be described by boundaries we create, but we cannot be defined by them. A follower of Christ can only be defined by radical commitment to Him and the extension of His Kingdom.
The Christian life is one that requires an empowerment not from ourselves. We can only be empowered from Christ the center, not the boundaries. Thus, to live life together from the center is to live centered in Christ and focused on Christ.
Jesus taught us that the only thing attractive to humanity is the uplifted Christ (John 12:32). In the cross-resurrection event is both judgment upon sin and grace for the sinner. It is Christ the center that enables life for the sinner.
Historically, one generation does not pass down their vision to another. God is fully capable of calling, gifting, and giving vision to each generation. The question becomes “How may we flow together in a multi-generational world and church to the glory of God without segmentation that dismisses those not like us?”
I offer that we all submit to Christ as the center and one generation resources the next – not just in terms of money, but in terms of all we have. We resource with people, money, creativity, respect, honor of others, etc.
In other words, recognize that Christ dwells in the hearts by faith of all who have been born again. He has gifted each one. Now in your congregation and sphere of influence, how can that gifting be utilized for the glory of God and the extension of His kingdom? What resources do you and your congregation bring to the table?
We might begin by with taking the camel off the menu and understanding that Camelot is fiction. Christ alone is reality (Col. 2:8-17).
May 2010 be a year for you in which you and your congregation see the abundant blessings of God and His favor.