The Current State of Affairs

19 09 2013

To be honest, I do not know what I believe, as of this very single moment.  To be perfectly honest, I have no qualms about a savior who came to liberate us from the world because this is a very hard world we live in.  I live a pretty hard life.  I don’t even have a problem recognizing that there is sin in this world, because sometimes, I do evil things too, and sometimes I am selfish.  And if sin is ultimately defined as a moment where selfishness becomes the center of your life, even for a moment, I can say that this world is not so perfect as we hope it would be.  I don’t have a problem with God, or the need for a God, as I tend to turn to a higher power to get me through the days that are tough and the nights that are sleepless.  I quite simply have a battle within my soul about the way the Christian church is misguided in its efforts.  In America, the war in churches is currently focused on morality issues and not the neighbor next door.  In our modern church, it seems that it is more imperative that we have moral politics, but not live moral lives.  We are so focused on taking away the rights of the gays than we are on creating and sustaining lasting families.  We are so vocal about our feelings on abortion, yet we offer nothing but sympathy when that child grows up in a home that is damaged or can’t provide for them properly.  We are so concentrated on moral politics, but cannot see past our lenses to see the starving person on the street.  We wage war when the rights of the church are being infringed, but refuse to recognize the legitimacy of other people’s rights as well, or the fact that the reasons our rights are being oppressed, could actually be valid, if we would look at it from an objective point of view.  We commit ourselves to “telling the truth in love,” but we don’t actually consider that the word “love” that we use is received as a mask for the word “hate.”  We try to fit the people of our churches into a particular, given box that we, ourselves, have per-determined, but fail to recognize that few people can actually fit into that box.  We silently judge the unwed mother, the struggling drug addict or alcoholic, while failing to recognize that if anybody deserves to have a second chance, the church ought to know a little something about that.  We accuse the homeless of being lazy, but fail to give them the extra guest room in our house, because they might steal the things we don’t use on a daily basis.  We loathe the people who are involved in the arts, because they could distract those people from God.  We love the preaching, but once the pastor goes past noon, our tummies rumble, and we start shifting in our seats.  Welcome to the church, the place of the hypnotized masses, where the majority of the people have no other encounter of God during the week.  Welcome to the house of God, where those who are different are scorned and criticized for their individuality.  Welcome to the place where each person is encouraged to begin a personal, individual relationship with God, but we provide no path for that.  Welcome to the place where individuality in the church is suppressed, and we are encouraged to recite the memorized script.  “How are you today?  Fine, how are you.”  Welcome!  Where all is fine and there are no broken hearts, no hurt feelings and no mental illnesses to battle.  Instead of the church being grateful and appreciative towards all who enter their doors, it seems like we try to change who they are so that they can fit in the mold.  Welcome to the place where the reality of the dirty, smelly, homeless, outcast Jesus is forgotten.

I do not think that the church was intended this way.  I do not think that the issues that the church tends to focus on are the issues that God focuses on.  The sins such as premarital sex, gay, divorce, drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness….they are not the focus.  These may not be sins at all, just sins that the church decided are sins.  Do not read me wrong, I am not saying we should all forget our morals and convictions and just go hog-wild.  I am sure that will be someone’s critique.  But by focusing on our “sins” or the “sins” of society, we lose our focus, and the focus of the entire Bible, the story of the world.  The focus of the message of the gospel, is not how grievous our sins are…but how awesome the love of God is to forgive us of them regardless, to choose to look beyond the current state of affairs and see the child we really are.  By distracting ourselves with each other’s flaws and shortcomings, we distract ourselves from the wonder of each person’s uniqueness.  By constantly preaching to people that they need to change in order to please God, we forget that God is more powerful than our words, and will change people if they need changing, at God’s leisure and in timing.  By criticizing and being disappointed in people when they don’t fit the mold and trying to fit those people into that imaginary conception we have of them, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to fully have a communion, or intimate experience with and create a healthy relationship.  A healthy relationship that is cultivated out of a sincere desire to help each other grow into the fullest measure of themselves.  By declaring war against the gays, for example, we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to encounter and know strong people, who could possibly teach us a thing or two about faith, strength, patience.  Now, replace “the gays” with any other oppressed group, and the sentence still applies.  We offer nothing but sympathy for those going through trials, we offer them encouragement, but have never truly sat down with someone and listen to them spill their hearts out to us.  To anyone who will listen, churches will loathe the very vocal hate groups, the extremists, but if we really stopped and thought about it, the only thing that makes the extremists different from those churches…is the fact that the extremists believe something and do something about it. 

This church is not the church I can believe in and it is not the church that I can belong to.  I need to see a place where all types and sorts of people from different walks of life, they feel that they can come together and really and truly make a deep impact in the lives of each other, and continue to concentrate on getting the focus off of each other and upon the wonder of the experience of love.  I need to be a part of a place that continuously expects God to show up, and work in the hearts of people to change them.  I want to see a place where the church does not take everything as an attack on God, but can be a gentle voice in the world that takes it in, considers it, and if found valid, change it.  I want to be with a people who embody love on earth in each moment of the day.  Of course, this is a high standard, but the attempt for that is very admirable.  I want to be with people whose every moment is flavored with love, when each word is carefully considered and expressed as a word of love, and is intended to express love, to bind up wounds and to build up people.  I want to be in a place where people’s motives aren’t second-guessed, and intentions are understood as good, where people simply accept what it is for what it is and don’t seek to change the person, but wait upon God to do that changing, but in the meantime, remind each person of the special gift they are.  This is not a prescription for my utopia, and I realize that imperfect people will have problems, but hopefully, the mature love of God will permeate our hearts and make us capable of looking beyond our selfish souls and faults and recognizing that reconciliation and lasting peace is found in love.

I simply want a better day where I can believe in something and in a group of people.  I’ve never doubted the existence of God, and I’ve never doubted the need for a savior.  And sometimes, I even get glimpses of what I want in the ways that some people express that sacred love to me and I, them.  I simply doubt the effectiveness of the church in representing God in the way that I know God, experience God and can share about God.

But, I suppose that if I were to really take the Bible to mean something, I suppose that by letting the conditions of the modern church taint my relationship with God…I have fallen prey to seeing the speck in my neighbor’s eye and not seeing the plank in mine own.  I have fallen prey to not actually having that personal relationship that I claim must motivate those in my vision and understanding of what the church should be.  For that, I ask forgiveness.  Perhaps I should be fixing what is wrong in my own heart first before attacking the problems of the world. 

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One response

22 09 2013
Amber

Howdy! I haven’t read your blog thingy in a while, but I’m glad I did tonite! Very wise words and lots of things that I think God had for me in this. I definitely can say “Amen” to a lot of your points!

I had a similar conversation recently when I told someone, that it is true and right and good to fight for the rights of the unborn; to try to stop abortion. But we will fight for someone’s life in the womb, but as soon as they’re born, we forget about them. As a church, we’re not adopting these children! We’re just leaving them be. Let’s adopt, people! Come on! Lol.

Secondly, I wish we cared about our own marriages as much as we care about the homosexual ones. If we fought against divorce as hard as we fight against gay marriage, wow, we might actually be making some progress. By God’s grace, I have seen (at least in the two churches I’ve attended over the past few years), some wonderful marriages and adoptions. I have seen love displayed and Christ glorified in people who are seeking first to be biblical and loving.

You know me well enough to know I want to stand for truth, but I don’t want to make other people’s sins the focus of the story. Jesus is the focus of the story. If there’s ever someone who deserved to be outcast….it’s me! If there’s ever someone who doesn’t deserve a savior or love…it’s me! If we can look at other people’s sins and not at least see some of ourselves in them, then we have a problem. Again, I do stand for truth, absolutely. But Jesus is the center of the story, not us, and not our sin. Jesus! Yay! 🙂

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