Friday, October 18, 2013

Christianity is...

I'm quite sure that if you asked people to complete the phrase, "Christianity is..." no two answers would be the same. We have taken Jesus' original organic idea and created something more corporate and political than life-giving. Something worldly rather than other-worldly.

We have made it about behaviors and issues, while screaming that it's about a relationship. No, dude, we've made it about anything but relationships. We've picked our favorite topics and decided that if you disagree with us regarding those topics you aren't a Christian. We've taken those topics and created seminars, books, websites, songs, and even specific "ministries" around them - at least, around our idea of a Christian response to them. 
I'm not sure if this is just an American phenomenon or a modern manifestation, but I suspect it has been around longer than that and is more widespread. I have hopes that times are changing, divisions are reuniting, cliques are disappearing, arguments are lessened, and that the Bride of Christ is starting to look like a bride. However, it's obvious we aren't there yet.
Can you imagine attending a wedding where the bride wore labels on her gown? This is the train - I wish it were a little longer. This is the veil which I didn't really want to wear, but it's making my mother happy. This is the bodice, I hope I'm covered. This is the skirt, does it make my butt look big? This is the ribbon - I wish it were more like the lace hem, but I'll put up with it. No bride would ever do that. Imperfections are unnoticed on the wedding day.
Yet, we throw labels all over Jesus' bride. This one's immature, do we have to keep him? This one can't seem to find the truth, can we kick her out? This one smokes like a chimney. *cough cough* Isn't the smoking section reserved for the train to hell? This one is gay. Do we have to let him in? We've already forgiven this one twice. Three times will be my limit!"

Have you ever stopped to ask why? Why are we focused on issues? Jesus commissioned us to preach the gospel, not to solve the problems of a society or to create a group of clones. What if we focused on that commission? We might look and sound less buffoonish and be more effective at increasing the real church. I'm overfed with how-to books. It's not like Jesus made it too complicated for us. He gave clear instructions to his disciples with phrases like go, make disicples, preach the gospel, be my witnesses.
Since Christianity is supposed to be based on a relationship, let's create that kind of church - the kind that builds relationships with our neighbors so they can build a relationship with God. The church Jesus died to create was the kind that accepted and included those who were mislabeled by society, those who were homeless and friendless, the ones who wouldn't have turned a head on the street. They all have the full attention of Heaven, but often in church they are treated the same as on the street. Let's be the real church, you know, the place full of disciples that the rest of society might reject.

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