. . . but I can’t live without it!

18 01 2018

DSC_0017Nothing frustrates me more!

When I consider all that my life encompasses, other than the current state of American Politics, few things frustrate me more than the Church.

We drive me crazy!  And there’s no typo in that sentence, because I am well aware than I am part of the Church.

The theological nonsense that is so rampant in our hymnody; the Biblical illiteracy of the vast majority of our membership; the exaltation of tradition over . . . just about everything: it all drives me nuts. And I’m just talking about what has been traditionally referred to as the “mainline” Church. Don’t get me started on the “evangelical” Church — all the so–called “Bible” Churches, and “Community” Churches, and “non-denominational” Churches, and “inter-denominational” Churches. They, and so many of the mega-Churches both here in America and around the world, have so bastardized the Gospel, and so commoditized Jesus, that the mere sound of a televangelist, or the mere sight of the “Christian Life” section of most bookstores, is enough to make my skin crawl.

And it’s not like such heresies are anything new. Consider our history. The Divine Rights of Kings and the Doctrine of Discovery, Biblical justifications for misogyny and slavery, the war on Science and anti-intellectualism, homophobia and xenophobia: such errors of our past, along with the white evangelical Church’s support for Donald Trump today, all offend the sensibilities of so many Christ followers.

So it goes without saying that the Church of Jesus Christ is not without it’s faults, and indeed “our sin is ever before us.” However I can’t imagine my life, or our world, without it! It drives me crazy, but oh how I, how WE, HOW OUR WORLD, need it!

Several years ago I heard a well-known preacher say that the Church is the hope of the world.  I’ve not forgotten that comment, and to this day I still believe it to be true.  We may not be able to answers all the big questions facing the world today, but the Church is one of the few places that at the very least, is willing to ask the big questions. And that, many churches are doing extremely well.

In recent years it might appear as though Hollywood has taken the lead in making statements and pronouncements about those things that really matter, and in many ways they have.  But Hollywood doesn’t teach us how to talk with one another.  It’s medium, as wonderful as it is, is one-way.  And so it doesn’t engage us in ways that allow for conversation and dialogue, nor does it help us link arms with one another so that we might learn to do life together. It doesn’t – simply because it can’t – provide opportunities to care for others, to engage with people who are different than we are, or to explore disciplines that nurture our spirituality and help us to deepen our interior lives.

In spite of our flaws, only the Church can do these things. Only the Church brings me dinner when my wife is in the hospital. Only the Church takes my children in their arms and tells them how much God loves them. Only the Church challenges me to spend five hours a week doing for someone else.  Only the Church teaches me to pray, and asks me to pray for others.  Only the Church walks with me through all the seasons of my life — rejoicing with me when a child is born, crying with me when a loved one dies, and walking with me through all the ups and downs of living in this broken world.

Yes, right-wing, evangelical extremists have hijacked the airwaves and continue to lead countless people astray, but they speak only for a small minority of Christ-followers.  Their voices are bold and loud, but more and more people are discovering that their witness denies and defies the very God they claim to be serving. There are countless others, who stand in the shadow of the very same cross, who have chosen another way. And we are not going to surrender the Church to those who continue to miss the mark. We are not going to take our eyes off of Jesus, and we are not going to water-down his call to care for the lost and the least.  We are not going to forget that God is love, and that only those who love, know God; nor are we going to seek to be anything less than ambassadors of the peace and justice to which Scripture calls us.

The world needs the Church! WE need the Church. I NEED THE CHURCH . . . and I don’t think I can live without it.  Because I need Jesus. And the Church is where I find him.  I need to know God more, and the Church is what moves me into this holy presence.  It makes me mindful of who I am, and whose I am.

Are we perfect? Of course not! But this is all we’ve got. And we’ve lasted for 2000 years. So maybe we are more than we know . . . more than we hope, dream, or even dare to imagine.  Maybe we really are, Christ’s risen body in the world today.


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24 01 2018
Barbara Cotter

Thank you Bob. Today a dear friend is burying her daughter, a friend in another state is getting results of husband’s cancer. Got news a high school classmate’s husband died and that dosen’t even touch the world and all those needed prayers. So I stand with you and my need for a community where I can share my story in the priesthood of all believers.

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