In Most Cases, Church Screws Things Up

In Most Cases, Church Screws Things Up July 7, 2016

[c] john c o'keefe - use as you desire
[c] john c o’keefe – use as you desire
“Over the past century we have confused this amazing Collective Narrative – of grace, of love, of forgiveness, of community, of connection, of understanding, of acceptance – with a monocultural, institutional church’s story we have woven into the fabric of our culture. A story of self-satisfaction, judgement, exclusion, and control. Many are so connected to the institutional church’s story they have lost the ability to see the colors set before them in the amazing Collective Narrative woven into the mosaic of life.” [From: The Naked Jesus]

My walk within the Teachings of Christ isn’t like most [or maybe it is, I’m not sure] – I didn’t start walking as a result of some wonderfully gifted speaker whose verbiage motivated me to come running down a crowed isle, in some small Baptist Church – No, for me the process was rather different, and to honest with you, rather boring. I was looking for something deeper, something more than self – something to help me along my life journey. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I was open to searching.

I looked into many different faiths [many]. One day, I decided to read the narrative John wrote about the life and ministry of Jesus, and if I am 100% honest [as I try be], I read it out of boredom. As I read John’s Narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus, all I could think about was how amazing this Jesus guy was, and how I could live by his teachings – not because they were easy, but because they were not – I knew the Teachings of Jesus would push me, challenge me, and help me look at the world in a very different way – because I wasn’t happy with the way I was looking at the world around me.

I have to admit, soon after reading John’s Narrative, I did a very stupid thing – I went in search of a church.

When I started to attend churches I was looking for a community of people who had the same love, grace, compassion, and a heart to forgive as John expressed of Jesus in his narrative, boy, was I in for a kick in the teeth. I kept reading about this amazing love, this amazing grace, this amazing giving of self in the expression of finding others – I didn’t find that in any of the churches I visited. What I found was a disheartening expression of take, a disheartening expression of want, a disheartening expression of judgement, a disheartening expression of doomed, gloom, and despair. To be honest with you, I almost walked away from the Teachings of Christ at that point, because I couldn’t find a place where people even tried to connect with the teachings of Jesus. What I found were excuses; here are a few I can remember off the top of my head:

It’s impossible to love everyone, why try?
We can’t help everyone, if we did we’d give away the store.
The idea of grace is a good concept; it just won’t work today.
This is what you need to believe, don’t think for yourself.
We want you to support us [the institution], but we’re unable [unwilling] to support you.
I am uncomfortable with sharing my life with others.
We all sin, except those people over there sin differently – so they are just evil.
Forgiveness is from God, but we determine if someone is truly forgiven.
Grace is a gift from God, not from me – I don’t have to express any form of grace.

I think we can all agree that excuses limit us, they tell us what we can do, or should do – or worse, they tell other what we don’t want to do. If we see love as a limited reality, showing all an expression of love is impossible. If we see a limited idea of grace, we refuse to show grace to others. If we determine that we decide who is, and is not, forgiven we soon find the only person truly forgive is yourself.

For any Community of Faith to reach out today, to be a truly meaningful, life changings place, we need to work together to that amazing place of grace, of love, of forgiveness, of community, of connection, of understanding, of acceptance we find in the Collective Narrative of the life and ministry of Jesus. Forget about the excuses, forget about what you see as limitations, forget about how uncomfortable you will be – just be the expression of Christ to the world.

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