On a search for a better world, finding it in the most unlikely places
So many of the problems within our expressions of Christianity seem to have their origins in a lack of practice. It’s not a lack of correct practice, but rather a lack of any correlation between expressed belief and corresponding action. So many of the defining elements of Jesus’ life – Identification with the oppressed, community with the outcasts, social disobedience, religious antagonism (to apathetic leaders of the “True religion”), sacrificial giving, etc. are so clearly lacking in current expressions of what was called the Way of Jesus. A cursory survey of Christianity might lead us to conclude that the solution to this glaring omission is some sort of corporate plan,program or academic solution. I disagree most emphatically.
The last half of the 20th century has taught american Christianity anything, it should be that programs are largely ineffective. Systems designed purely to produce a certain resultant action can never fulfill the mission of the church (which is the manifestation of the reign of God in everyday life). We don’t need a new program, we need a new perspective. Perspective is not only what we look at, but how we look, who we look for, and what we see. In a church that has chosen politics over people and resources over relationship we are in desperate need of Jesus’ Kingdom perspective.
“Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” [Luke 11:34-36]
How much have we allowed the nationalistic, imperialist ideals of our time to cloud our vision? Do we value what Jesus and his apostles valued? Look at the early days of the Church, and I believe the answer will be a stark indictment of our pretentious modern piety. We have cathedrals but no community, we have degrees without discipleship, we have communion without confession. Are the teachings and practice of Jesus enough for us, or have we become too sophisticated for a Simple Way?
“It is enough for the disciple to be like his Teacher” – Jesus