Yeah, so I went to church today, the same church my recent post below warned you not to attend with me – at least not if you are homeless. And I am stunned (yet again) at the talk we talk. I mean our preaching is good – real good. We even sang that song Reckless Love again.
Check out this lyric:
Reckless Love (Spontaneous)
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn’t earn it
And I don’t deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Songwriters: Caleb Culver,Cory Asbury,Ran Jackson
© BETHEL MUSIC PUBLISHING
How’s that for a praise-worthy description of the love God shows us? Pretty good, don’t you think?
And so here I join the assembly where I am a regular member to sing these words AFTER leadership there tells me that we will not welcome the homeless from the streets and provide them care when it is cold, AND that my idea of how to help them actually does more harm than good.
So… How am I supposed to cope with this inconsistency? The only thing I can figure is that this song keeps making the first-person, singular pronoun the blessed recipient of God’s reckless love, but it does not extend to the third-person, plural – THEM. At least not if the THEM refers to the street homeless of Lubbock. Yeah, we are incredibly selfish about this love of God stuff!
Are we really that shallow? How can we sing this song with such passion, yet so firmly conclude that if we open the door to the poor (or even give a bum $5), then we are doing them harm? God’s reckless love is good for ME and mine, but when it comes to the homeless, I better not show any of God’s reckless love! I better not do the things Jesus actually said to do! That would do more harm than good!
It’s all too stupid to really be real. But that’s us… where I go to church.
But then the sermon found evermore powerful ways of reiterating the very love the song speaks of. Our preacher all but came out and said we should open our door to the homeless. All but! I mean he went to pains to describe the pains God/Jesus go to in showing their love for us, but he didn’t stop with us. He went on to describe all kinds of otherwise undesirable people in undesirable circumstances of gross, immorality, drug or alcohol addiction, who are poor and unwanted in a dozen different ways AND how God loves them (us too) absolutely unconditionally, sacrificially, and unreservedly.
He even went on to question what outsiders think of our church! What kind of people do we seem to be to those broken, undesirable people out there who pass by us? Do they see us as judgmental? Do they fear our rejection? Do they think they would not be accepted by us???
He didn’t stop there. He warned us that there is another part to this series of sermons yet to come in which he expects to make our church feel very “uncomfortable”. He said he knows this because his preparations for this series have caused him great discomfort as well.
So… here I am singing like this, listening to a sermon like this, in a church that insists we cannot/should not/will not open our doors to the homeless when they are freezing to death. A church whose leadership is neck deep in the When-Helping-Hurts ideal of definitely not being reckless or overly helpful. A church whose leadership has specifically told me personally that my idea of ministry (the very idea we just sang and preached about) does more harm than good.
I think I am going crazy.
But I gotta hand it to us. We sure can talk the talk.