Tuesday, March 30, 2010

People of the Church. It's Time to Shut Up.

I'm going to start this with Isaiah 1:16-20. Simply because it defends my point.

Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow's cause.
“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”


I have had couple of dinner conversations recently that have sparked a bit of a sobering thought within me. The people of the Christian church aren't listening. We are consumed with the color of paint, the floral arrangement, the hour that the service starts. We're missing the point.

Now, before I spend time sounding yet another horn about how the Church is failing- we all know that that message pops up in the headlines nearly every day- I want to look at some of the work that the church has done and is currently doing. I'll do this in the spirit of the recent (and awesome) Google ad.

10. Here's a surprise.

Those are just 10. There are many more. The people of the Church are responsible for a lot of the major organizations doing phenomenal work in the world and here in the states. I do understand that.


What I don't understand is why we (we= people in churches that affirm that Jesus Christ is Lord and affirm the Nicene Creed) don't get what Jesus has called us to do. To shut up and be Christian. A few years back, I was sitting in my midwestern evangelical church. It was missions week. A Ghanaian pastor was speaking today. It was already a little different to have someone with an accent sharing the message. You could feel it in the room. And then he began to speak. His message, if adhered to, would shatter the comfortable "Sunday church box". I will never forget the essence of his message.

He said, " If you have time to argue about the flowers, the type of worship, the placement of the chairs, then, Church, you bring disgrace to the gospel-the saving message of Jesus Christ."

You could feel the unison gasp. But why is this so surprising? Why does this make us squirm? It breaks my heart that people still have conversations- passionate ones- about whether or not hymns are energetic enough for worship. It is sick. I had a conversation today with the co-founder of Mana- one of my favorite organizations that is seeking to address acute malnutrition- starting in Rwanda. 26,000 children in Rwanda suffer from this. TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND. And we have the audacity to be bitter and angry about the topic of the sermon. It. Is. Disgusting.


Listen people. We have an obscene amount of blessings in this country. Just think about your day. You wake up- blessing one. You put your feet on a floor- blessing two. You go to the bathroom- blessing three. You get dressed- blessing 4,5,6. It goes on and on. You have the opportunity to use what you have to answer the commission we have to serve those who are without a voice. Who do not have the energy to ask for help. Who are dying from AIDS.

We ARE called to help those who are in need. We ARE called to defend the cause of the oppressed. We ARE called to give of our financial resources and our time. It is because we know that Jesus is Lord. It is because we know that our Redeemer lives. It is because we are saved by His grace. We MUST serve out of response to this truth.

We are NOT called to explain natural disasters with our interpretation of God's will. We are NOT called to promise lives of success and wealth. We are NOT called foster hatred and judgement towards those who may not agree with us politically. We are NOT called to chatter. It is because we know that Jesus is Lord. It is because we know that our Redeemer lives. It is because we are saved by His grace.


Christianity is not for the lazy. Join those who are actually responding to Christ's call to serve the poor. If you aren't, you're missing the point.

St. Francis of Assisi had it right- "Preach the gospel at all times, but when necessary, use words."

We gain the right to speak when we demonstrate that we care. We gain the right to speak when we get our knees dirty serving the poor. We gain the right to speak when we hold a mother who is dying of AIDS. We gain the right to speak when do something. Before then, we have no right. None.

I'd like to end with this simple old song that I believe captures the heart of this well.

"We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord. We are one in the Spirit. We are one in the Lord. And I pray that our unity will one day be restored. And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they'll know we are Christians by our love."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amy, you truly are an amazing young woman. After reading your blog, I have spent the last hour or so in prayer as to whether or not to respond. It has become clear to me that I should.
I have to say that I agree with everything you said, and that I would even take it a step farther. I have seen people in Christ's church behave in ways that are as far from Christlike as you can imagine. I have seen them gossip about each other, deliberately do things in the name of the Father that we truly for their own personal glory, and the arguments over the music seem never ending. Even on a mission trip, I saw one sister purposefully spread hurtful words about another while on the mission field! I was blown away. I've seen mission leaders that were control freaks and in it for the "look at me" factor, while dismissing those that were truly there for Lord's work.
This must stop. This is not of Christ. I am, in no way, a perfect example of Christ. I strive every day to become better at portraying His face to those around me. I am truly saddened by what I see in the Church. For us to be useful to the Lord, all of this must be set aside.
We truly do need to be one in the Spirit.
Many blessings to you,