Has the Church Resealed the Tomb?

Has the Church Resealed the Tomb? April 1, 2024
Rolling the stone.  Photo by Pisit Heng

I used to be in the evangelical church. A leader. An influencer. I was sincere, but I was sincerely wrong.

Now, I often ponder the path the church has taken. How its steps, meant to follow the footprints of Jesus, have veered so far away from the open tomb and Jesus’ message of lavish, unconditional love and inclusion. It’s a path that places us back under the shadows of the law, under stones of conditional love and exclusion, and puts Jesus back in the tomb and reseals it with power and fear!

Jesus was all about the outlier. He shared a message of an all-encompassing love—a love that knew no boundaries, that extended beyond the margins of society, that embraced the outcast, the marginalized, the misunderstood. Jesus’ ministry was one of radical inclusion, where the least likely were the most welcome. This was a love that broke the chains of legalism, that challenged the rules, religious leaders and institutions. He put the entirity of the law into two commands: Love God and love others.  Jesus came to set captives free by reminding us that we are not broken, and that the kingdom of heaven is here and now.

Yet, as I look around today, I see so many churches that are the exact opposite. They have nothing to do with the teachings and message of Jesus. He is just a mascot. They prioritize rules over relationships, dogma over empathy, and orthodoxy over understanding. They have rolled those stone back across the entrance of the tomb, trapping, with fear and false teachings, themselves and their followers inside.

The exclusion of LGBTQ+ individuals is a prime example of this regression. The truth is that there is no condemnation for LGBTQ+ people or same-sex relationships in scripture. None. Period. But, through false teachings, we have this group of people who, simply by being who they are, are often rejected by the very communities that should be the embodiment of Jesus’s unconditional love.

When the church chooses to exclude rather than embrace, to condemn rather than understand, they are denying the very essence of the gospel.

The origin of the word sin is a word that means to “miss the mark.”  It was an archery term. Beloved, the church has, and continues to miss the mark. In many ways, they are doubling down with their hypocrisy, the focus on Christian nationalism, and their involvement in current politics.

As followers of Jesus, the calling, the very purpose of life is to reflect His love to the world; to roll away the stones of exclusion, conditional love, and legalism; to help create community where all are welcome, all are loved, and all are free.

If you want to be a people of the resurrection, and not a people of a re-sealed tomb; the best way to celebrate Easter and move forward is by loving yourself and loving others the same way the one you claim to follow did.

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