by Kenneth Justice
~Okay, so we all know that Christianity throughout the Western World pretty much sucks.
–) Pastors and Priests look and act more like business CEO’s than people whose lives have been dedicated to serving humanity
–) The church, which in the Medieval Ages was on the frontline of healthcare for the poor and the helpless, now spends more of its time planning irrelevant meetings and taking care of their church building(s) which are colossal wastes of space since they sit empty for the majority of the week.
–) Sex before marriage occurs more often among ‘churched’ teens than among un-churched
–) Hotels sell the most porn videos during youth pastor conferences
–) Greater depths of community appear to exist more often at the local pub or cafe than they do in the confines of church fellowship
We could probably sit here for hours and talk about the problems with ‘church’ in the 21st century….but in despite of all its problems; I still love the church.
Do I sound like the abused spouse who keeps running back for more slaps to the face? Why would I love an institution that appears to be filled with more negatives than positives? Why would I waste my time attending worship at an institution that on the surface appears to be completely irrelevant to society?
I guess in many ways my love for the church is similar to the love we have for our family. Many of us have siblings, parents and relatives who treat us like s**t. They are unkind, unloving, and it’s hard for us to even call them our ‘relative’……but we still love them. Maybe some of us haven’t talked to these relatives in years because they drive us too crazy….maybe we haven’t talked to them in decades……..but we still love them.
Sure, when people treat us like crap it is important that we put up boundaries in order to protect ourselves from their abuse. Yet, even though we’ve put up healthy boundaries it doesn’t mean we stop loving them….it doesn’t mean we forget how good the relationship could be.
You see, that in many ways encapsulates what I think about church; I think about what it ‘could’ be. I think about the potential there is for a loving church, a thriving church, a relevant church; a church that helps the community, helps the poor, protects orphans, cares for widows, and supports single mothers…….
The church in my lifetime has become more obsessed with ‘sermons’ than ‘service’. Even though the bible says that ‘pure and undefiled religion’ is connected to serving others……the Church in my lifetime places serving others on the backburner. Sermons, homilies, preaching, meetings, professionalism…….those are the kinds of things that are more important to churches than serving humanity.
And despite all of its faults….I still love church.
I enjoy attending Mass. I love the liturgy, I love the traditions, and I love the feeling of walking into a silent space reserved for spiritual contemplation. Whether you are Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, etc….you probably can relate to that feeling of being in a holy place; a place reserved for spirituality…..there is something otherworldly about being in a religious service.
I’m not a big fan of churches that put on services that resemble rock concerts, but if that’s what you are into its fine with me, we each have different tastes. I enjoy services that are ancient. I enjoy services that don’t resemble quiche elements of culture. I enjoy serious times of deeper spiritual contemplation. I enjoy taking a break from the hustle and bustle of Western Culture and getting lost in meditation upon things of a higher nature.
We can all meditate in our living rooms……but there is something more special about participating in prayer and meditation in a place we’ve built specifically for spiritual contemplation.
Perhaps the church will never ‘get better’ in my lifetime. There’s only so much I can do about the problems which are running rampant within the church all across Western Culture. There’s only so much I can do to encourage my fellow Christians to stop focusing so much on being the moral police of society and to spend more time living lives of self-sacrifice.
I say what I can and I do what I can….but my fellow Christians have in many ways closed their ears to the Jesus I’ve come to know. Even though my fellow Christians spend countless waking hours memorizing, arguing, and debating the biblical scriptures…..precious few of them have ever encountered the true Jesus Christ whose unconditional love, grace, and mercy flows from every page written about him.
So maybe the church will never ‘get better’ while I’m alive. But it won’t stop me from loving the church…..because I will never stop thinking about what it ‘could be’.
Time for another coffee,