I don’t think we take the church nearly serious enough. Not even close. Church is still just a place we go to on Sundays to fulfill some sort of empty void that we only really know exists because we were born with that routine implanted in us as kids. Church is still just a room full of people that pat themselves on the back because their morals are somehow just and proper, or at least more than the Muslims. Church is still just a waste of time in all. I wonder if we are doing ourselves a disservice? Throwing a bunch of people in a room once a week who all claim to believe the same things with their words and then calling that the church? It’s got to be a joke. Is it really helping? The church is no different then the society around them. They might not swear as much. They might not drink as much. They might feel extra bad when they look at porn. But come on. We are no different. Where the hell is the church that actually lives out lives committed to Jesus that calls into question the values, traditions and routines of the society that it finds itself in? It’s not in North America. Where is the church that faces into injustice by living justly? I don’t see it that often. How does putting all these people in a room together once a week do anything more than perpetuate a sense of superiority and accomplishment?
We the church are not the church. We want to be. We call ourselves the church, but we are not. Let’s not fool ourselves. But listen, I don’t think we are without hope. I just don’t want to lie to myself anymore. It’s coming. I see hints of it here and there. I do think we can do it. But we can’t do it if we want to hold on to everything that North America deems as important. We cannot be the church and hold on to our money, savings accounts, retirement funds, consumerist obsessions, big houses, vacations, packed schedules, video games, celebrities and mindless entertainment. We cannot be the church if we sleep fine at night while the gap between the rich and poor grows and we are firmly planted on the winning team. We cannot be the church if we point at those who struggle and tell them that it’s their problem. We cannot be the church if we refuse to take the side of the oppressed and disenfranchised and the failures and the lazy.
If we want to be the church, we need to be different. Not different because it’s cool, but different because being the same is the is not the church. The church needs to redefine what it looks like to live. The need to experiment and expand and create and exemplify new ways of living that show the world what it looks like to live under god’s reign. This means everything from adopting children to gardening to fasting video games (and all the other things that enslave us and our kids) to giving away all our wealth. The church in some places does this. There is hints of it rising up all over the place. It’s just not here. North America is slow. The church here is slow because we love what we have. We aren’t in any rush to change it. I constantly find myself caught between what I know we should be and what I want, and I don’t really find the church to be a great support structure for encouraging each other to get better.
From a Christian point of view, the world needs the church, not to help the world run more smoothly or to make the world a better and safer place for Christians to live. Rather, the world needs the church because, without the church, the world does not know who it is. The only way for the world to know that it is being redeemed is for the church to point to the Redeemer by being a redeemed people. The way for the world to know that it needs redeeming, that it is broken and fallen, is for the church to enable the world to strike hard against something which is an alternative to what the world.
– Hauerwas and Willimon
The ethical stance of these early Christians, with their peculiar beliefs about money, was a concrete application of their theological assertions. The church was called to be a colony, an alternative community, a sign, a signal to the world that Christ had made possible a way of life together unlike anything the world had seen.
– Hauerwas and Willimon
Resident Aliens by Hauerwas and Willimon got me excited about the church. What an excellent book. I just want to be the church and stop being a coward. I’m a chicken. I don’t want to give up my aspirations. I don’t want to focus on relationships over my goals. I need to though. I need help. I need to be part of this church. I want to be part of it. Where is it? Cause I’m not it.