Me………….and the Church

I took a stand with Jesus, and when I looked around my church was gone.

Let me back up just a bit.

This is America – Modern, even Post-Modern, America.  Lots of people are spiritual, even “Christian”, and yet have nothing to do with church.  I could easily have grown into just that same mentality/attitude, except I went to school to study Bible – good ones – where they taught me the importance of church.  “There are no ‘Lone Ranger’ Christians” they said, and demonstrated it from the scriptures!  To neglect the assembly is to cut one’s self off!

And I doubled down, as they say, on my participation.  There is no “I” in team or in church.  We together make up the Body of Christ!  I took this with utmost seriousness.  And I devoted myself to Jesus and to the local church for all I was worth.

I loved my church.  And I have been a part of a lot of them over the course of my life.  And I really did not love them for the most part, not with a remarkable love, not agape, but this one I did!  And I felt loved too.  I thought my participation there was appreciated, desired, and valued.  I thought I was secure in my relationship there.  And with that as my foundation, I hit the streets to share that love with the poor.

And my ministry seemed to be valued by the church… at first.  In fact for a solid 3 years, I think my ministry was highly favored.  I can think of many times when I felt discouraged from issues arising on the streets, but found encouragement from my home-base.  But that was at first.  Because later, things changed.

Suddenly my church read the book When Helping Hurts and decided that all the love we (and I) had been showing on the streets was actually doing harm rather than good.  I attempted to go through proper channels and persuade the church to rethink this new position, but they insisted on changing course.  Thus, the church moved away from me (and Jesus).

I took a stand with Jesus, and when I looked around my church was gone.

A year later, I found myself joining forces with the premier homeless church and volunteering to chaperone street homeless folk as they spent the night inside the sanctuary on bitter, cold, winter nights.  This, in fact, was the big draw to joining them in the first place.  But a year after that, leadership there stopped allowing this ministry to happen, and certainly curtailed my efforts to engage in it for arbitrary reasons.  Let me state this clearly: They stopped doing what previously they had been doing, which was the thing I joined them to help them to do.

Again, I went through proper channels to get the church to reconsider their new path.  I attended meetings, traded emails and text messages, and in the meantime I joined the homeless outside in the cold numerous times.  None of my efforts affected leadership’s plans to shut the poor out to the cold of night.  Thus, the church moved away from me (and Jesus).  And again…

I took a stand with Jesus, and when I looked around my church was gone.

I am only listing two such experiences here in this post, but I find them to be more common than not.  And this is not a case of me leaving the church.  In fact, my whole prophetic mission is to position myself in relation to the church as I call it like I see it.  And the problem is that when I take a stand with Jesus, I look around and find my church is gone!

NOW…

It could just be me.  I really might just be a big horse’s ass that no one can get along with.  That is possible.  And if it is accurate, I am likely the last one to see it.  But, I would point out, that in the first instance, I was part of that local church sensing the rich love and value for years on end before the rest of the church began making changes.  That wasn’t me making the changes, it was the rest of the church!  And something similar happened again the second time too.

But I have been reading Wright’s new book, The Day The Revolution Began, recently, and I spotted a sentence* in the midst of a paragraph that, though it is aimed at a very specific bit of theology, actually reflects upon a much wider array of issues too.  And I really think this is a feature I meet in Wright, particularly, that jazzes me to the core: He calls the bluff on so much bogus church theology!  And it is amazing how obvious a lot of it is, and always was, but has gone ignored like an alcoholic elephant in the room for generations!

Just take the Kingdom of God for instance.  Jesus announces the Kingdom of God in the opening of each gospel, and they all reach their climax with the Romans putting a crown on his head, royal robes over his body, hoisting him up (on a cross ironically), and posting a sign that says, “King of the Jews” on it.  Kingdom theology is bursting out the seams of each gospel account, but I grew up thinking this was a story telling me how to go to heaven when I die!

How on earth could that go so easily missed???  How on earth could the church get this sooooo badly wrong???  In fact, it seems there is some strange collusion afoot!  And if the church could miss its own message by a country mile, then when I find myself taking a stand with Jesus only to look around and see that the church is gone, I should take that as an indicator that I am where I should be.

But this is still no endorsement of “Lone Ranger” Christianity.

Just sayin…

 

 

  • On page 171, I find this sentence: “One might have thought that this would already have caused theologians and others in the church to question some basic assumptions.”
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5 comments

  1. John Lewis · October 26

    It’s got me questioning that theology every day. All we care about is what happens when we die. Jesus Christ was not crucified for talking about what happens when we die. He was crucified for announcing the kingdom of God, right here, right now. Which made (and makes) Him a threat.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Agent A · October 26

    Amen!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Larry Who · October 27

    Jesus preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, not just the Gospel. In fact, Matthew 5 – 7 seems to be the heart of Jesus’ message to us and helping the needy was a major item on His heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Agent X · October 27

    The elephant in the room that I did not mention in this post (not that my out-of-town readers will know this) is how most recently my home church split apart over the course of the Spring/Summer. The issue that broke us up?

    Gay marriage.

    I don’t know anyone at that church who hates gays. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t have great patience and charity toward gays. But suddenly one of our lay ministers, a backbone member who is a life-long church member from one of the charter families, came out as gay and wanted to marry her partner. This move forced the church to move past being “accepting” of gay sexual orientation (and all the others in the LBGT alphabet), but to also be “affirming” or else oust this minister.

    There were enough key leaders who decided to affirm her/them that it became the official policy of the church to accept AND affirm gay marriage. But since that does not jive with the Word of God, a lot of us could no longer participate. In fact now there is only a very small fraction of the church left there.

    And this is only the latest, and possibly the most profound, example of how my church left me.

    Oh, and by the way, this issue is already here for us all. It is not coming; it’s here. Some churches have had the luxury of not having to face this elephant in the room, but that luxury will not last for long. Your kids are gay. It will change your way of thinking when that gets revealed to you. And the long standing practice and policy of the church of the Lord is under attack. And I dare say, more churches than not, are likely to head down that path away from where they always were before.

    Where will that leave you?

    Pray about it.

    Like

  5. Pingback: Kingdom | The Eternal Purpose

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