Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Missional Mistake

I am human,  and not a very good one. The truth is that there is not a day that goes by that I do not see how broken I am.  I have the ability to make a gigantic mess even out of the best of my intentions.  My missional ideals it seems, have been no stranger to my tendency for error.  Recently I had to correct a Christopher sized goof-up that has been in the making for the past 4 years.

It started with a noble intent. I wanted a ministry that would give preferential treatment to any and all that are considered worthless or of a lesser value in our culture.

 "What could go wrong with this pursuit? After all It seems very Gospeleque. "  (yes, that is a makeup word)

Well, "plenty" would be an understatement. Reaching out to those who are hurting and marginalized comes with difficulties all of it's own, but when you throw me in the mix the chances of ill guided action can be slightly elevated. After four years,  I realized that I missed the mark of The Kingdom Jesus exemplified.

You see,  I have a heart for the little guy/girl; always have.  However when I first became a Christian I assumed that church was a place where we could comfortably "worship" and that God's presence was measured in decibels, lights, and the relevance of the lead communicator. I do not believe those things in themselves are bad, but the result of this focus means that relationships CAN be of minimal importance and funds tend to be spent on "a production" rather than "producing" The Kingdom Community Christ displayed.  Thus my focus for those on the fringes was secondary to the production value of my career.

Then one day when studying The New Testament I saw how little The Church looked like Jesus, and saw how much it looked like Ceaser and it rekindled my desire for aiding the broken. I found groups of like minded people and made many sacrifices to build this community that would include those who were constantly and unjustly left out. Then one day I saw that I made a mistake.

In my zeal to include the marginalized I was excluding entire groups of people because they didn't agree with my ideals. Conservatives, evangelicals, mega-church lovers, the rich. Anyone I did not agree with became my enemy.

That is when my hypocrisy became evident and I began to question my actions.

 "How can you say you're inclusive when you are openly excluding people?"

 In fact my hypocrisy even went against the principals of my denomination. The Disciples of Christ is  known for radical inclusivity. Not to mention that at a more fundamental level I was even being hypocritical to The Way of Jesus.

I do not know if there ever could have been a more inclusive group than the 12 Disciples. Militants, conservatives, liberals, rich, poor, radicals, pacifists, educated, undereducated, greedy, violent, doubters, liars, backstabbers;  all found in one radically inclusive community.

I cannot say I am a Follower of Christ if I give preferential treatment to ANYONE. The message of the Gospel is that of inclusivity AND equality. Yes the rich were asked to sell there possessions, but that was in order to bring equality to the poor... not preferential treatment. The rich would lower their status to elevate the status of the poor to bring equality.  Anything more is just swinging the pendulum of preference in the opposite direction. This too is unjust. A lesser injustice in my personal opinion, but wrong all the same.

We are called to be so radically inclusive that we are to literally "love our enemies as ourselves". Judas was an enemy of Jesus when he betrayed him, yet he was still part of their community, and I believe his sins were no worse than Peter and that Christ loved Judas equally.

I challenge every person reading this to remember as humans we are all in this together no matter what status we think we possess and that we have all been an enemy to the Gospel at some point in our lives and we all have the potential to be enemies of The Way of Jesus in our future.  God includes us anyway, and invites us in, warts and all.   Should we not do the same even to those opposed to our missional values?

I think Abraham Lincoln said it best when he said, "I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends."

-For The Kingdom