It has been quite the week here at this old house. The election is finally over but the work has just begun. Reading about families not spending the holidays together because of differences of opinion on who should have been president is painful. Seeing a rise in bullying and racist graffiti is disheartening. Having conversations about people who are frightened to be in this country, even as they are here legally, is discouraging.
We are in an ideological civil war, not unlike the war of the 1860s that tore the north and south apart. Obviously, some people are still fighting that battle! What are we to do?
Many good articles and commentaries have been written in the last few days sharing ways to be kind, live lovingly and bravely, wearing a safety pin as a sign to minorities and the disenfranchised that you are a safe person for them to be with, and more. I will let their words stand on their own.
I want to focus on the failure of the Church in this nation. Fr. Richard Rohr. among others, has been a prophetic voice in this regard, pointing out that too much of what passes for religion is simply a “frosting” on top of our egos that then don’t need to be confronted and changed. Basically, I would say that we are living the lives we would have lived anyway whether we call ourselves practicing Christians or not. We have done all we can to inoculate ourselves from the transformational call of the Gospel and we have seen the fruits of that in this election cycle. When you have Christian leaders siding with racism, bigotry, xenophobia, misogyny, and power at all costs, one has to ask where the Gospel of Jesus Christ went in making us new creations in Christ!
I believe that the desire, while good intentioned, to make church “easy” and “seeker friendly” has come back to bite us. While we may be filling our pews and running lots of good social programs from what amounts to a “community center under the guise of faith community,” we are not making disciples of Jesus. We are making hundreds of members and few intentional disciples to live the incarnated life of Jesus today. We are scared to death to take the words of Jesus seriously and so we have taken the broad path of political power and cultural paradigm as a booby prize.
Few of us want to sign on the dotted line of guaranteed persecution. We don’t want our kids to be different so we let them play sports and miss corporate worship or go to that birthday party so they aren’t the only left out. We don’t want to come across as “fanatic” or “self-righteous.” Therefore, we are easy push-overs for those who believe the corporate model is the model of the modern Church. We forget that the early Church had no political power, no clout, and yet, they stood the known world on its ear! The path that Jesus calls us to really is a narrow one and we are too used to (false) safety and security, with a good insurance policy to cover “boo-boos.”
These are tough words but the Church must become a prophetic voice in the wilderness of our society. It must stop living by Mall Time and begin living the Church Year calendar. (Why should anyone take seriously the birth of Jesus Christ when our churches look and sound just like the mall does and on its timing for when the “holiday season” begins?) We Christ-followers must be salt and light in a decaying culture and not a “great group of friendly folks who won’t demand too much from you.”
I lay much of the nastiness that tried to pass as a democratic election at the feet of North American Christian churches. We have shown people in this country and the world that as the Body of Christ, we are willing to do whatever it takes to “stay on top” instead of working from the bottom, as Jesus did.
This is a clarion call for change! Who is with me?