I normally don’t listen to Preachers on the radio. Why? Well, to say it kindly, they don’t speak to me; they always start in one place, love, and end in another place, judgement and law; besides, I find most rather boring, and unrealistic. Most of what they say is off base from what Jesus shares in the Collective Narrative. Now, you can disagree with me, and that’s fine, but let me share an example.
Our neighbor’s granddaughter was being baptized yesterday, and the little girl asked if I would attend. I knew the church, its style, would drive me crazy, but how can anyone turn down the request of a child? I can’t. I knew the service was not going to be something I would get a great deal out of, so I figured I would listen to the radio on my way to the church; I just decided not to hook my phone in, and listen to my play list, so the radio was the next best thing, it was easy. I started searching for a station where I could enjoy the music, but, as fate would have it, I came upon Charles Stanley speaking about how American Christians are persecuted by their non-Christian friends – I just had to listen.
While Charles was speaking, he mentioned that Christians in America are persecuted when their ‘non-Christian” friends don’t invite them to their activities [kind of like not being invited to the reindeer games]. He said, ‘Being excluded from non-Christian activities was persecution from those non-Christians to Christians.’ He went on to explain that exclusion is persecution. My first thought was, ‘Really? Exclusion is persecution?’ My mind started to swirl in a world wind of possibilities, what came to my mind in the moment was, ‘If the church teaches, exclusion is to be persecuted, and the historical church has excluded so many, is the church guilty of persecution?’
The answer is yes.
For centuries, the church has excluded many people who don’t fit the mold of what they see as a ‘good Christian;’ women, the poor, the homeless, the outsiders, people within the LGBTQ community, those who think differently from the institutional church, pretty much anyone who are different from those who attend their church. A long time ago, a Pastor told me he was unconcerned with the poor in his community, because, to paraphrase his words, ‘Those people had a church they could attend on the other side of town.’
Exclusion has been a hallmark of the church for millennium; we all know it. Well, we know it if we look around our church on any given Sunday.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.