Church, It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

This is not the post I wanted for my return. I had planned on writing an introduction to a new feature on my blog. However, this is far too important. If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I cannot stay silent.

Charlottesville. Tragic. Horrific. But a surprise? No. Why? We know why. This has been festering for far too long. Racism is the cancer that eats away at our souls, and we have not been cured. Not yet. Not here in America. Not in most places in the world. We try to hide it, try to smile and pretend it’s not there. But, it’s killing us.

The saddest part of this is that there is a cure. There is a way for us to rid ourselves of this cancer.

Let me interject this with a story. It’s a familiar story to anyone who has read the bible or been in Sunday School as a child.

There once was a military general named Naaman. He was Syrian and an enemy of Israel, but that’s not the point right now (there are so many good points to this story, that I could go on and on and on about it, but I’ll limit myself). The point is that he was sick. He had leprosy. After he was told the prophet Elisha could heal him, he went to him. Elisha told him to dip himself in the Jordan river 7 times, then he would be healed. Naaman went away, angry, because he thought Elisha was mocking him. How could something that simple cure him of this horrible disease killing him? Wise advisors convinced him to follow the advice, and he begrudgingly did. Here’s the thing: it worked. As simple as it sounded to him, it worked. (Read it in 2 Kings 5)

Now, back to my point. There is a simple solution that will cure us of the disease of racism, but only if we are willing to do exactly what is prescribed.

Love.

That’s it. Simple. So simple that we ignore it and we look for something more, something grander, something that will knock us off our feet and transform our thinking as a whole people.

But, truly, it is the answer.

The best part? Church? You have enough of this cure to go around.

But, you’ve been hogging it. You’ve been keeping it stored away, giving it out sparingly.

Keeping it from anyone and everyone you deem unworthy of it.

We all have, myself included.

Someone, somewhere along the way, told us that we should only give it out to certain people. People who look like us, believe like us, act like us.

And at no time do we give it to anyone that disagrees with us – especially if they are our “enemy”. Honestly, I think we see far too many people as an “enemy” when we really only have one – Satan. The people in this world, not our enemy. No matter what vileness they may spew, or action they take against us. Not our enemy.

So, yes, I play Tobymac’s song above. Because, it is that simple.

This country is dying. Has been for a long, long time. This world is dying. Has been for even longer.

It’s time we stop contributing to its death. Its time we stop propping up political agendas. It’s time we stop supporting politicians just because they tickle our ears with their promises when we know their actions go against everything we believe (or say we believe). Its time we stop whining about our “rights”. Its time we stop looking at everyone around us as an enemy.

It’s time we start to “Speak Life” and love. For the love of Jesus, wake up.

If we don’t, it will only get worse. The racists are getting bolder again, and the world is tired of being oppressed.

If we don’t act, they will – and violence will meet violence. It’s already happening, but we can stop it. We can and we must.

Come Church. It doesn’t have to be this way.

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16 thoughts on “Church, It Doesn’t Have to be This Way

  1. The Church does need to do a better job reaching out to people…but we must remember that WE are the Church. The Church is not a human organization. It is a divine ORGANISM; a living Body of multitudes. We are the Body of Christ, and therefore we must be the ones who extend the love of the Church. Critiquing the Church is the same as critiquing ourselves.

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    1. That’s the point – critiquing ourselves. The Church (and there is a reason I use a capital “C”) needs to do more than do a “better job at reaching out”, though. We need to wake up. We need to stop droning on and on about our rights and how we feel slighted by society. We need to stop getting into bed with politicians and supporting them no matter what they do. We need to stop remaining silent about what really matters in this world, but scream at the top of our lungs over stupid things. We silently watch as the world around us burns, while we cry foul over red cups and happy holidays. It’s not about critiquing the Church – it’s about holding it accountable. It’s about reminding it of what it was called to do. We were not saved so we can strut around in our piety and look down our noses on anyone who isn’t like us. We were saved so we can lead by example to show this world there is a better way. A way of love. A way of acceptance. A way of grace. A way that does counter everything that the world knows, because the world knows hate and violence and oppression. It knows the way of Evil, because it has to face it every day. We need to stop adding to that evil through our silence, or sometimes through our own actions. We know a better way, it’s time we start showing it.

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      1. I understand your pain and I agree that we need a much bigger voice. In regards to some of your complaints, however, what examples do you have? I’m asking strictly because I’d like to know where this is coming from.

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      2. Most conservative evangelical Christians voted for and continue to support a President who spews hate (and has done so from the beginning of his campaign). They continue to whitewash his rhetoric, or flat out trumpet it as what we need in this country. Many preach the same hate from the pulpit. This goes far beyond this president, though. The Church in general has become more vocal over the last decade or more (far more) about how they feel victimized by society at large. The culture is the enemy, and the enemy is militantly trying to tear us down in the public square. Everything from an anti-Christmas movement to exclusion in public forums. I used to believe the same. The thing is, whether or not you believe that society is purposefully targeting Christianity or not, whining about it gets us nowhere. Looking at your neighbor as the enemy, because they believe differently than you do, is not the answer. Attacking businesses because they don’t say Merry Christmas, or because they support something you are against, will not further the Kingdom of Christ. We must lead by example. For far too long, hate has reared its ugly head and the Church has stayed silent. (The Southern Baptist Convention, and I am a Southern Baptist, actually struggled to denounce the alt-right…struggled with it! They didn’t want to vote on it at all, but a few voices pushed the issue until it caught on and they couldn’t ignore it any longer. While I’m glad they denounced hate, I’m shocked that it was such a struggle to do so. And in Charlottesville, many in the church – some of my own friends – were defending the nazis and white supremacists. The same people who call for the head of Starbucks because they have a red cup during Christmas instead of snowflakes or Christmas trees cry out that the white supremacists should be able to spew their hate because of free speech.) The world is dying to see what real love looks like, and we’re not giving them enough examples. Yes, there are those that are making great examples out there – I’m only calling on the Church to step up this effort. To stop worrying about whether or not my “rights” are being trampled and live the way Christ did. To inject myself into the culture as it is and change it radically with love and truth. Christ stood for truth, and he never wavered, but he didn’t bash people over the head with it. He lived it and they saw it in him. He lived it and it transformed their lives. He lived it and they could see that it was a better way than the life they knew.

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      3. Okay, I understand a bit better. I believe that you’re right in a lot of aspects. Frankly, there are a lot of (pardon me) dumb Christians out there who don’t recognize that they should actually connect their faith with their political views, the politicians or actions that they endorse, etc. It’s embarrassing. Overall, I still wouldn’t blame the Church as a whole. I’m a Catholic so when I talk about the Church, I typically just mean the Catholic Church. Members of the Catholic Church certainly aren’t perfect and still make the same dumb mistakes like any other Christian where they support certain political views for messed up reasons. But the Church as a whole, as Christ’s Body, is something we must still keep faith in.

        I really agree with what you’re saying about the truth! You’re absolutely right. Sometimes I feel like Christians speak out against the world being anti-Christmas, not because they are trying to bash people with Truth, but because they want other Christians to recognize reality. I believe that there’s a fine line between acknowledging the faults of the world–which DOES need to happen, in order that people can still discern between right and wrong–and condemning people unjustly.

        I believe the answer lies in St. Augustine’s words, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. We should be loving to PEOPLE, no matter their views or opinions. It is the false principles of the world that we must acknowledge, point out, and even condemn. Not the people who believe in those principles, just the principles themselves. The person who thinks Christmas is all about Santa Claus or only says “Happy Holidays” deserves the same amount of love as anyone else. But the reasons behind why that person believes that Christmas is only about Santa Claus might need to be addressed. Once again, the culture is at fault for the war on Christianity. We DO need to make sure other Christians understand that a war is happening. But you’re right, we need to do a better job with not whining about it but responding with love.

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      4. Therein lies the rub. How did Jesus point out what was wrong with the culture? He did it by living the truth, not just talking about it. Instead of yelling at someone, or calling for a ban on a company, because they don’t say Merry Christmas, why not return their Happy Holidays with a warm and sincere Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. Be sincere, not bashing. Be loving, not vengeful. (I know you agree, just reiterating). How did Jesus get “sinners” to change their ways? He had dinner with them. He laughed with the, cried with them, let them know that he was in their corner. His love and his example of truth changed them. He didn’t say “hey, you need to change before you can follow me”. No, he said “follow me”. When they did, and they let his presence wash over them on the day-to-day, it transformed them.

        This post isn’t to blame the Church, but to call them to wake up and flip the script. To stop crying out as victims and supporting hate. To live how we’ve been called to live.

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      5. All right I definitely see your point and I can agree with that. You’re right, we should be responding to hatred with love. Love will set everything right; every messed up principle, political idea, and attitude.

        Cheers!

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  2. There have been some remarkable posts so far this week about the call to love, Russell, this among them. Reaching out with love to those who threaten and harm us is hard, but screaming back at them changes nothing and makes it worse. Only welcoming them into another way of living has a chance to work.

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    1. Thank you Diana. Yes, love is the only way: to combat the hate, to fight back against threats, etc. This is also a call for those who claim to have “true love”, as the Church does claim, to live it and stop sitting on the sidelines. Hate grows because we don’t stop it. We’re so inward focused that we’ve forgotten the outward focus of Jesus. He didn’t call us to sit on fluffy clouds and play the harp while shaking our fingers at everyone else. There are a lot of great Christian leaders out there calling for love and standing up against hate, but not enough. Worse, there are a lot that are on the other side, spewing the same hate. Things need to change, and we can’t continue to sit around and say that we wish it would change. 🙂

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  3. I appreciate your heart on this issue and can tell it torments you. I agree with you on many points. The greatest commandments are only two. Love God and man. What mystifies me– is why the blame is on the church? Not that the body isn’t called to act. Of course we are! But yours is the second such article I’ve read that seems to cast responsibility in an unexpected direction. I see the racism problem as having its origin in sin. Perhaps I’ve missed some news that portrays Christians as racists? If the Church were to love in a manner consistent with your ideal, what would it look like? I guess what I’m asking is, what specifically is a Jesus follower to do?

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    1. Read my last reply to Dominic. Honestly, I’m surprised that this isn’t more known. That’s not a knock on you or Dominic at all, just surprised. Many Christian leaders cry foul against the media for being too harsh on the President after he consistently supports hate groups and spews hate himself. They support him and dismiss his rhetoric – or they say its what this country needs. Some of the loudest voices in support of many of his most controversial promises are in the Church. Love your neighbor? Sure, as long as they aren’t Muslim, LGBTQ, Atheist, Black, Hispanic, or anything else that doesn’t look/act/think/believe like me. We target people that are different and call them the enemy. It’s in the news constantly, and in the pulpits. I don’t know, maybe I’m just around the wrong circle of believers…but most of those who fall under the Conservative Evangelical banner voted for and continue to support and administration that vilifies entire people groups and vows violence and annihilation of anyone who opposes him.

      What would it look like if the Church loved like my ideal? Everything that the Bible tells us to do. Do I have it down? No. I make the same stupid mistakes that I rail against sometimes. But, actually loving our neighbor no matter what would be a great place to start. Standing up against injustice. Denouncing hate and binding up the wounded. Supporting those that society deems unworthy. Being the loudest voices of inclusion and grace and mercy, instead of the loudest voices of exclusiveness and vengeance. The most radical change that would affect this world would be the simplest act we as the Church could make. Living like Christ. Living truth and love by example. That’s what drew the world to him and the early church. We think we’re victims being oppressed by society? The first church were actually being killed and/or imprisoned. Did they retaliate? Did they whine and moan about their plight? No. They continued to live out the example of Christ, never watering it down, and the world took notice. Christ saw the humanity in everyone, no matter who they were, and he valued it. I think we’ve forgotten that. Not all of us. There are many out there who are living exactly what I’m calling all of us to do. We just all need to get with the program.

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