Oct 23, 2011

Why I Love Jesus, But Don't Attend Church: Part Two

So, at the end of the first part of this little document, I was discussing Jesus, and how he seemed to place discussion and outreach above the excluding of supposed sinners.  He offered the living water to a woman who obviously had a living arrangement he wouldn't agree with.

And so, we return our gaze to modern churches.  Have I portrayed wrongly what the Bible says?  If the answer is no, then ask yourself- do the churches I see all around me act more like Jesus with the samaritan woman at the well, or the Pharisees with a woman they'd caught in the act of adultery?  Answer honestly.

And when we start to think about other similarities with the Pharisees, it gets even more disturbing.  The religious leaders of Jesus' time had scriptures too.  But those weren't always the most enforced rules.  They were too busy with the "Traditions Of The Elders".  Rules added by other Pharisees, before them.  Not scripture, but rules made by people.  Sound familiar?  This is where Jesus' words about swearing on the gold of the temple are directed, as quoted at the start of this little essay.  The gold is more holy than the temple itself?!  For a more modern example, ask yourself is it worse to pass by someone in need, or to have sex before marriage?  Is it more sinful to see someone hungry and not feed them, or to smoke cigarettes?  Worse to curse your neighbors in your heart, or to say swear words?  To quote Tony Campolo:  “...while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don’t give a shit. What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.” I agree wholeheartedly with Campolo, and- for now, at least- simply can't side with the 'shit-upset' any more.

We seek to emulate a God/man who was semi-nomadic,  who traveled with a small group of close friend/disciples.  Who said he had 'no place to lay his head' (Luke 9:58).  Yet in following Him we build huge buildings, cathedrals, and worry so much about the church grounds that the piano can't even be moved a few inches in either direction without causing conflict? (true story). 

So, if we go back to justice, love, and caring for the poor, how is the church doing?  When you hear the word Justice, who do you think of?  Amnesty International?  The Supreme Court?  Martin Luther King, Jr.?  The Occupy protests?  I'll bet you don't think about organized religion.
At caring for the poor, we/they do a little better.  There are certainly soup kitchens and shelters that help the poor.  The closest one to us here, though, is housed in an Elks Lodge.  And I'm not clear if it has any religious connection at all.

And love?  What about good old love of our neighbor?  Remember what a Samaritan was?  Check out Jesus talking about the Good Samaritan.  Or his answer to the the question of what was the greatest commandment.  Who is the most loving person you know?  Are they in a church?  I hope and pray the answer is yes, but I'm no longer sure it will be.  In fact, you might say I doubt it.  And I've got so far to go to be like that good Samaritan, I have no more time to waste worrying about an organization that seems bent on making me exactly the opposite.


  1. I read both part one and part two. I have to say that the church you have experienced is not the church I have experienced.

    The need for Christian community is essential, I think, for authentic faith to find its fullest expressions. Consider the very nature of the God head. God, Godself, exists as a community.

    When Jesus begins his ministry he begins it first by building a community.

    Are there churches that get the fundamental message of "religion that is pure in God's eyes" (James) wrong? Sure. But as a died in the wool VOL fan these words should strike a chord with you: "Don't confuse the cup for the contents it holds."

    Or to quote Jim Wallace: "The answer to bad religion (read church) is not no religion, it's better religion."

  2. I don't disagree about Christian community. But does that mean church as we currently see it? Not necessarily.

    I would NOT call myself a dyed-in-the-wool VOL fan. But don't, either, confuse the 'cup' of my subjective comments about organized Christian churches with a wholesale disregarding of Christian community. My point wasn't that Jesus and/or the trinity didn't have community, it was that they sure didn't have it anything like this.