“- What happened to Christianity?” we ask. Nothing, it remains the same. The culture that surrounds it shifts slightly as time goes by, (even though cultural fundamentals also are slow to change).
There is a great designation to be made here. It is not the Church, the body of Christ that is effected by the changing culture. Jesus did not get stained by sin. His nature remained the same. It is actually Jesus and His body the Church that restores culture to it’s proper purpose and place. So beginning on a light note like that 🙂 where am I heading with this?
Myself and many of my peers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that something must have gone terribly wrong with “Christianity” or with “Church”, especially when we read the latest “10 – list – of – something – that – made – me – leave – the – church – and – start – my – own – charitable – save – the – world – project” or about the sacking of Constantinople for that matter . We read on our devices about the personal experience of someone we have not met with angst and horror, hoping that we won’t experience the same thing. Or maybe that we will…? (Sometimes we want an excuse to leave the Church…)
We are scandalized by the Church’s inability to be relevant, forgiving, transparent, acceptant, honest, hospitable and loving. We know that if the Church only could muster the ability to apply these things, her true calling, the contemporary person would be drawn to Christ and His body. I believe this to be true. If the Church could apply these things it would very much offer what is needed in the contemporary person’s life, namely real relationship. We need to love and we need to be loved.
This need will not be satisfied by us sitting in front of our screens and voicing our concerns and/or our reasons to celebrate. The studies being done in this area, how digital interaction/connection affects us are starting to show this. We need more than the likes on our status updates. We need more than the FaceTime conversation. We need more than following the news on a distance. The development of the experiential travelling business is evidence enough. This generation of mine (and all generations for that matter) want to belong to something, want to know that we matter to someone and that we can contribute to the betterment of humanity. Our creative capacity and the tools available to us are astronomical. But , (there is always a but) I believe we are going about it in the wrong way.
We have been taught that we can consume whatever we choose to consume, including Church. We have been fostered to believe that whatever I prefer should also be my right. Whatever I choose, and the choices are endless, is what is true for me. So when we choose the Church we attend it is often based upon what this Church does for me. Yes, we have heard this before and we know that this is not the best way to go about choosing what Church to attend (only to our own preferences) but the deeper issue is not that we choose like this. The deeper issue is that we treat “Church” as something separate from ourselves. In essence, Church is not something to be chosen by the individual as we have been taught. Church is the personal encounter with restored reality, and we can only have this personal encounter in the light of Someone else’s face. Church is not a individual preference, it is Personal immanence.
See all these things that “the Church” struggles with; relevancy, transparency, integrity, honesty, acceptance, hospitality and love is really my struggle. The Church struggle with these things because we people comprising the Church struggles with these things. The moment we start to blame “the Church” for all the hurtful things done, in that moment you are increasing the distance between yourself and the Church. As a Christian, as someone anointed, you can not distance or cut yourself of from the body and still believe that you are going to have any intrinsic effect on Her life. It is easy to criticize and judge something you do not view yourself as being part of.
I don’t think it is mere chance that a lot of the blame that the Church is receiving is shared online. It is one thing to write generally about the dismal state of the Church on the anonymous Internet, it is quite another to talk in confidence and trust with another person about it. And this is the point of being Church in the first place. We need the real, physical encounter. We need to be encouraged but also held accountable by other real, physical beings. Short of that we will eventually escape into the pseudo reality of “gnostic internet”.
God knew that we would not be satisfied until He had revealed Himself in the flesh. We need to see, hear, touch, smell and taste love to be able to trust that it is real and true. We needed Him to share our life in the flesh. So God sent His Son to heal the broken world and to reveal His love in the world. God knew that it would not do with updating His status through the prophets. He knew that it would not do with just “liking” the likes of David and Jonah. He knew that it would not do to reply “maybe” on the invite from the Jews. He had to show up, in the flesh, and show up He did.
Would not His very own body do well if we did the same? If we actually showed up and were present where God is planting us? If we took all the time we spend online (ok, maybe not all the time) and used that time to build other people up? If we said “yes” or “no” and meant it? If we made promises and kept them? If we lived in covenant where we would be grateful for honest appreciation and admonition?
To act with integrity and inline with what I have just written, I then must invite you. If you do not already attend a Church I invite you to visit us here at Holy Covenant. We are trying (and failing) to live somewhat like this. We are here, present in the midst of North Park, Saskatoon and we would love to get to know you. We are in it for the long haul. We can not offer new emotional “super experiences” every week (or month for that matter). But we do offer what we have. Real people wanting to share the blessings and burdens of life. A steady prayer life. A helping hand. An encouraging word. You can visit our webpage (off course, here we go again…) but don’t stop with that, come visit us in real life because that is were Church really happen. And… if you are about to make big judgement calls concerning the “dismal state of the Church” please take a moment and read up on the actual nature of the Church, you might be apart of her…
It is about grit you know. About putting our hands to the plough. If you desire real relationships and real people it will claim your life, it takes work (lots of it). But then on the other hand what else would be worth giving your life up for? Welcome to Church, it will always be here, even after you have written your last status update…