On my personal blog the subjects of politics and religion come up regularly. Strong comments are inevitable because of that, and I don't consider it a bad thing. Among the most interesting comments I've ever gotten was a question: "Why is the church not doing its job?"
Actually the whole question was: "Why aren't you asking yourself; why is the church not doing its job?"
The irony is that anyone who's actually read my blog for any significant length of time already knows, I do ream "the church" quite often for it's lack of following in Jesus' example.
Now none of this is new, as I've often been criticized for the fact that I'm perceived as being anti-organized religion. But that is an exaggerated assessment. I'm very much in favor of organized religion, as long as it doesn't get in the way of God's work.
In describing his church's activities the commenter said this:
"My Church does more for the community than any other Church I have ever been a part of. They are a church of poor, blue collar, salt of the earth, and yet they tithe, and give, and sacrifice...and yet they believe in Conservative principles. We have food kitchens, a battered woman's program, we work with the Good Neighbor's Center, we sponsor a work in a poor neighborhood in the city. We take care of the poor; we take care of the hurt..."
All this is good and not only do I applaud it, but I encourage other churches to follow in this particular example, should it hold true. George W Bush made famous the phrase: "If you're not with us you're against us" in contrast Jesus once said: "Don't you realize that whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who even gives you a cup of water in my name will certainly be rewarded." (Mark 9)
That having been said the answer to my commenter's question is three fold:
- First of all, the church (At least the organizations the commenter was referring to) does do what the humans who designed it, intended it to do and often. They build pretty buildings, give people of similar ideologies a place to get together and do... Well, whatever they do. We too often get so stuck on the physical that we sometimes forget that Christianity is not physical. The new testament word Ekklesia did not refer to a congregation or a church building, it was describing the whole body of Christ.
- Which brings me to the second part of the answer: Organized Churches don't do so well in these area's for the same reasons that the government doesn't do so well either. Any man-made organization is going to be corrupt with corrupt leaders. I'm a firm believer that power corrupts. Remember what Jesus said about the rich being like a camel trying to go through the eye of a needle. I'm basically talking about the same principle.
- And finally: "The Church" does do what it was designed to to do. It's just not as apparent because Christians who are doing what they are supposed to be doing are too often being eclipsed by televangelists. Still, every time a christian helps anyone who is suffering that's the "Church" working. Every time a christian shows compassion in the name of Christ, that's also the "Church"! It may not be glamorous and it may not be in the news night after night. But it is there.
I've seen all this with my own eyes, and I think it is the fundamental way to tell the difference from when you are dealing with a member of "a church", or "the Church".
I don't volunteer at the local soup kitchen because because I love Jesus. (Though I do love Jesus!) I do it because people are suffering and I can do something about it. I do it because it shows those who look up to me what a christian is supposed to be doing.
Likewise I teach the way I do not because it's what Jesus would do, but because it's what I believe is best. Show me a better way (And show me why it's better) then I would do that instead should it ring true.
And that's the way I like to think Jesus saw life. I don't believe he did what he did because that's what God wanted. I think he did it because he cared for us. All of us!!! (And I challenge you to find scripture that says otherwise.) Mathew 23: 23-27
For me and other radical centrists, the spiritual line has been drawn in the sand. The Bible says that everything works out to God's purpose, so I believe he has used Barack Obama to make a path for people like me to speak out. We must have faith, faith in God, faith in our country, and faith in our countrymen. But more than just faith, and more than just support with our words.
I've given thought a lot about what we can do to make Christianity better and closer to what Jesus had intended it to be as I've planed my next series of installments. And to show people why Christianity is the best way to go. This is the question I will be focusing most on for future installments. For those Christians out side my blog who wish to continue with this thought process I will be publishing it in other locations as well.
I will be devoting future installments of my wprr to this subject, because many of the loudest elements of Christianity are actually doing damage to the cause of Christ. I would also like to share those installments with Christians beyond just my blog and the Cricket-do newsletter. If I can affect the public conversation even just a little I hope to restore the compassion element of our faith, that has been robed in recent decades.Monnin's WPRR series is a weekly assesment of religious, social, and political issues published on his personal blog and in the Cricket-do newsletter. For further information on the Cricket-do just contact Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org
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