Grace Emerges

Monday, October 17, 2016

Oh Church, Where Are You Now?

Thank you Cameron Webb for being a guest contributor this time.

Sometimes in the dark of night I think a lot.

There's a lot to think about at the moment, watching a lot of ugly things going on. Many of which are being ignored or out right condoned by many branches of Christianity.

It has often seemed to me that the Church, by in large, has invested many attributes and concepts found throughout the Bible, into that magnificent future envisioned for their souls after death...

It is the place where the last shall be first, where the meek finally inherit the earth. Where there will be no East nor West, male nor female, and so forth, for all shall at last be one.

Where there shall be no more poor or suffering.

Where all these obscure parables and ancient symbologies shall be manifest as the "Kingdom of God" and they shall then inherit it and inhabit it.

Meanwhile, as we all too often turn our gaze on this beatific vision, all around us the meek are abused, the poor go hungry, the servant is down trodden, the alien among us rejected.

Male and female are not one, but splintered, divided, hierarchically stratified, institutionally dominated, and abused.

And all of this appears to be accepted and tolerable, because the great Kingdom is waiting for us on the other side.

This could not be more wrong.

The Kingdom of Heaven is within us.
All of these concepts are not meant to be future attributes of a tantalizing afterlife.

Let me say that again:
These are current mandates.
When Jesus took the despised menial role of washing the disciples' feet, and proclaimed that the first shall be last, he didn't mean that there was a reward for oppressed servitude in some distant eternity.
He meant that the transformative power of service was meant to create revolutionary change here and now.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we are not meant to reconcile with the despised outsider in the afterlife, but instead we are to stand in the face of all disapproval and rigid tradition and bind up wounds and care for one another in our need. Right NOW.

I recently visited an older women's Bible study group in a large and privileged church. And I watched them wrestling, powerless, with what could be done because of the neglect and lack of care of widows in the organization.  Somehow, in this church, the idea of genuine religion meaning caring for orphans and widows in their distress (distinctly commanded in the book of James) has gone completely over the side. Real suffering, both emotional and financial is going on in that church, completely ignored. It tore my heart.

A lot of things are tearing my heart right now.

Many churches, absorbed in a far flung future afterlife and high holy ideals, ignore the life they should be living in the now. I suspect they ignore it because it's convenient. They ignore it because doing so won't upset their privilege and power structures.  They ignore it because they can twist the words and life of Jesus to serve their own purposes.  They ignore it because they can wield current power.  And in doing so, they neglect and destroy the very message they seek to impart. 

They ignore suffering, pain, poverty, and institutional hatred. They often create that suffering.

And then they do not understand when they are confronted as hypocrites.

In the now was where Jesus' life was lived. His life, his example, his call to live the earthly mandate of love and service is where transformation lies.

Those who have "come to the cross" must walk back down the hill into the daily life they still must live.

And they are called to LIVE as he lived.

Passionately involved.
Loving unconditionally.
Serving unreservedly.
Boldly subversive.
Engaged rather than disengaged.
Resisting hatred, prejudice, poverty, pain, and suffering.

This is the mandate your saviour gave you, oh Church.
Where are you now?

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