Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Greatest Show on Earth: Part 1

          This is Bullshit!  The opening statement for this post is harsh, but so is the situation at hand.  I adore the church (at least what it should be),  and I am very passionate about its health and presence in our world.  However,  every week I am disgusted with the traitor that stands in her stead.  I am sick of walking on egg shells when the western church is on life support and something needs to be done or at minimum communicated.

           For the life of me I cannot find the scriptures that supports ecclesia (Greek word for church) being a production!  Nor can I find any text in the New Testament that supports the way of Jesus being centered around a location. Yet,  in my culture (the Bible Belt) that is the majority of the church's focus and/or goal.

         I read the account of Jesus turning tables and fashioning a whip (and using it) in the temple because  it was turned  into a business and it is evident that we have stumbled into the same pit.  I cannot help but think,  that if Jesus walked into one of our expensive buildings with our fancy  productions done in His name;  He would probably find some rope and start whoopin' some ass! (John Ch. 2 13-22)

      A good friend of mine informed me this week that a local  mega church has raised $2,000,000 in two weeks for their upcoming multi-million dollar facility.  This infuriated me!  Now this church is not alone in their quest to build bigger and more elaborate worship centers.  We have many churches in the area who have the exact same goal.  However,  it is a known fact that our city has a growing homeless population (currently over 800 people) and our county has no homeless shelters,  warming centers,  or soup kitchens! Not even one!  Why the hell our we building a theater when Jesus mandated our focus to be the poor?

     In the Bible Belt we have churches literally building overpasses as entrances to their sanctuaries in some of America's poorest cities.  Hey,  I guess the homeless at least have a new bridge to sleep under right?  We have churches who have purchased professional  football stadiums and converted them to worship centers and their electric bills are $1,000,000 dollars per month.  We have church plants that require $100,000-$1,000,000 as a yearly operating budget  before they even launch!  This is just the protestants!  If we consider that the catholic church alone has enough money to completely abolish world hunger it should make us angry.  If we combine the wealth of both the protestants and the catholic church we could obliterate poverty world wide!

     Why the hell haven't we done it?  Why the hell are we waiting on the government to do it for us or expecting the poor to take care of themselves?   Did Jesus not command us to care for the poor?  Did he not say in Matthew 25 that we will be judged by whether or not we cared for the poor individually?

          What's worse is the world knows it is clearly wrong.  The world looks at the church and they see our hypocrisy every time a mega church is constructed or sought after.  These people who are not active participants in worship, or maybe even nonbelievers have a more biblical understanding of church than those who frequent church services.  Based on my research I believe Jesus would most likely feel the same.

     This series of post will examine the history and bad theology that is feeding this beast.  This post may be one more shovel full of dirt tossed from my careers grave,  but the church is at 6 feet and if something is not done soon we will  only have regrets and memories of   "The Greatest Show on Earth".

-For The Kingdom


Monday, March 4, 2013

When Rubber Meets the Road


      I am no longer going to apologize for my inconsistent posts.  The truth is that I have been trying to maintain my sanity while going through the most painful event of my life...and truthfully it is only getting worse. So I do not want to promise regularity when I am in the middle of instability.    However,  I have to confess a recent self realization that has literally brought me to tears.

I am a fraud.

          It is painful to type and has taken me far too long to recognize.  This cancer has gone undetected in the guise of my charity and "good theology".  Until recently I was under the impression that I had a pretty good handle on the Gospel.   After all;  I made some major sacrifices when I jumped head first into this emerging "missional movement" thing,  and  I am leading a community of people who are literally transforming the methodology of church planting.  This delusional reasoning was the source of my  ignorance, excuse and my offense. 

       Without going into great detail (which would humiliate all parties involved)  all that can be conveyed is that I was deeply betrayed.   Not the kind of betrayal that breaks trust...the kind of deception that breaks hearts and alters ones faith in humanity.  During this struggle I had forgotten the core principals of everything I believe to be essential in following Christ.   In these moments Jesus offers us the ability to display His Kingdom in a way that is both attractive and unnatural.  Regrettably,  despite what I "believe" I have been far from gracious, forgiving, and merciful when faced with my current situation. 

      What is worse is that I literally felt entitled to my outbursts of anger and harsh words which are so diametrically opposed to The Way of Jesus.  Frankly,  part of me still feels my behavior is at minimum  "understandable" and now that I have identified this false sense of entitlement it sickens me.  As critical as I can be of the American Church I must admit that I too... am a hypocrite.   

        The point I wish to make is that when the rubber meets the road we have to ask ourselves;   "Is this not the kind of moment in which Jesus instructed us to be different?".   Is "loving your enemy" just a nice concept or is it the mark of a true disciple and the blueprint for bringing His Kingdom to earth?   

          I am a disciple of Christ and I don't promote labels but if I had to align with any denomination's theology it would be the Anabaptist.  This means that I believe that literally loving an enemy is an integral part of being a follower of Christ and is not exclusive to the false concept of "mature Christians". I believe that an eye for an eye makes the world blind.  I believe that we should literally bless those who hate us and pray for those who persecute us.  I believe in the power of forgiveness and do not believe in the erroneous practice of "just retribution",  but what am I DOING with my system of beliefs?

        When our education  is given an opportunity for application how do we respond?  Isn't it meaningless at best if our response is not  in direct correlation with our beliefs?  The book of James addresses the symbiotic nature of faith and practice by saying...

         But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.- James 2:18 ESV

        So in my recent self examination I am left with a choice. Do I chose to respond in the way that I (a deprave sinner) feel is just?  Or do I humble myself as someone who believes in the power of a greater kingdom and act accordingly?

        As members of the body of Christ we have the ability to live out His Kingdom of unconditional love,  mercy and forgiveness.  Not on our own because of our sinful nature but with God's providence.  However,  the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one,  and this is my confession.

For The Kingdom,