These are (hopefully) just a few words about something about something that has been bugging me over the past year.
I don't want to say that it has become "trendy" for young and enlightened Christians to hate on the church...except, well, that's exactly what I want to say, because it makes me feel like such a freaking rebel when I use the word "trendy."
But if I'm being honest, I've hated on the church pretty hard, myself. I mean, what is so awesome about an institution that churns whacked out political agendas, tidy comfortable hypocrites, and cultural constructions that masquerade as spiritual revival? In fact, I was doing some heavy hating on Pat Robertson (because, let's face it, he's easy to hate on), when I got slammed in the fast with 1st John 5 vs 1:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.
I mean really, not even one tiny little asterisk? No exceptions made for people who are obviously missing the whole "loving people" thing? Sorry, no. This is what I'd consider a pair of pretty tight syllogisms: Pat Robertson believes that Jesus is the Christ, so he must be "born of God," (however you want to interpret that), and I love God, so I should love him? Really, God? After Haiti? And the wife-beating comment? The tough bit is that this verse falls in a letter all about the "brethren" living in unity and loving one another. So is Pat Robertson is...my brother?
Yeah, I think so. Or at least the crazy great uncle who still thinks Barack Obama is a closet Muslim.
I don't know what that means, but I suspect it's something more than just a grudging acquiescence to not hate each other. Jesus didn't screw around when it came to unity and love between his followers.
One Body, One Head, one Spirit. This is heavy stuff, kids.
"But, Sarah, I'm not walking away from The capital"C" Church, I'm walking away from the institution. I'm just rejecting religion."
Yes I know, "The capital "C" Church" doesn't exist within four walls and a 3-service schedule. Even so, when we are sick, don't we go to the hospital? Not because the beds are so comfy or because healthcare politics are so good for your well-being. No, we go to the hospital because that's where the doctors hang out. Like it or not, the institutional church is full of...Christians.
These are my peeps. The flaws in the institution are not small. Sadly, people are being crushed under the wheels of a giant Christian Machine. But that's certainly not the whole story. More importantly, this is my family, and when my family pisses me off, I don't get to give up on them. I don't get stop coming home for Thanksgiving because I can't stand their politics or the way they turn their nose up at my friends. That's not how the capital "C" Church works.
However I may try to differentiate between the Body and the institution, if I cut ties with "the institution," then I am, to some degree, abandoning the Christians that are part of the institution. I mean, isn't that the reason I'm leaving? I just can't be part of what they're doing anymore? But, as painful and embarrassing as it is, they are family. Foursquare, Assembly of God, Lutheran, and, God help me, Baptists (I'm kidding, Baptists, you know I love you). We are all part of the same body and, yes, we do have to work together as a unit.
One Body. One Head. One Spirit.
And, if I can be a bit presumptuous, there are quite of few of us hanging around that are actually pretty cool.