Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Letter to the Church

I was a Christian before I even knew I was a Christian. As a child, I innately understood the deference between right and wrong. Often in times of anguish, I turned to my heavenly father for spiritual guidance. Since the source of most of my childhood woes came from my own biological father, my relationship with my heavenly father was a very significant one. I must confess however that it took many years before I completely accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Although one is taught something, they are not automatically a believer. I listened to the stories and parables of Jesus’ life with the usual skepticism, but God had his own timetable for me. Although I often discounted the imposing inquiries to my spiritual beliefs as mere ramblings of people pursuing justification for their own shortcomings, I did not realize the significance of their witness until many years later when it all climaxed at a critical juncture in my life. However, when that life-transforming event did happen it was not because of the angry judgmental zealots that tried to persuade me of my sinful ways, but those genuinely sincere individuals that offered guidance through sharing of personal experiences, the ones who did not pass judgment but offered love, acceptance, and support instead.

Today we have too many Christians that are clueless to what Christ was all about. They seem to not understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments. Many have chosen to revert to the Old Testament ways of mandating morality through law. The Jesus I learned about questioned the merits of law when those that fully abide by it still lack the spirit of it. Jesus did not personally challenge the laws of the times, nor did he raise a sword to topple the status quo. He was not a lawyer or a soldier, a senator or zealot. He accepted all of this world, and spoke only of his Father’s Kingdom. In his Father’s Kingdom were many things, like love, faith, hope and mercy. Yet, some Churches today speak little of this and more about judgment, righteousness, justice and morality.

It has become a sad day when Christians fight among themselves over what defines Christianity and oppress the very ones Christ sent us to reach. I do not quibble over what rituals or customs each denomination chooses to exercise, for all the wild flowers in the field, we each have our favorite. There are many Churches, but only one God and hence Christ. Let everyone find his or her place where the word of God is heard not despised. Yet, we must understand that what works for us may not for another. Further, I have been a practitioner in many Church denominations; Lutheran, Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ, Nazarene, Mormon, Presbyterian, Assembly of God, and even Catholicism. I see much more in common than divisive, yet we focus on the differences. I fail to see where the fact of whether I am sprinkled or dunked in baptism will condemn me to hell. Likewise, whether I speak to God through prayer or the Pope has little significance. What is important is the way of my heart. Can I love my enemies, forgive the wicked, be loving, generous, compassionate, kind and merciful.

We all find it to easy to cry for justice, ask for vengeance, strike out in anger and lie to ourselves about our own self-righteousness. As a Church, we are dutifully obligated to check these attitudes at the door. Yet, some Churches seem to be advocating that kind of behavior. These Churches challenge the authority on many moral, political and legal grounds. Some people in these Churches see themselves as crusaders to define Christianity, morality and justice. I see them as wicked! For only the wicked do these things in Christ name. Christ himself said that he was not here to judge the world but to save us from our sins. Only Christ has the authority to judge as he sits on the right hand side of God for this purpose. Jesus evens warns us about judging others and that it would be our own undoing. Yet, many leaders of many Churches seem to profess themselves as Christ and throw light on sinners.

Not only do these whited sepulcher Churches perverse their own congregations, they have poured money and marketing into pressing their own vane and wicked agendas. The Church has no business in politics or vice versa. Much of our history has shown us the consequences of mixing religion and government; burning of witches, Spanish Inquisitions, and Religious persecution (Holocausts).
Alarmingly, however, this past election of president Bush has shown us the ebb of power these ultra right-wing neo-conservative groups are having on the population and how fragile the human psyche truly is. The very people they placed in power have undermined many of the programs developed to help the poor and disenfranchised. They have changed laws in the name of morality that have immoral consequences. They have become very cunning at deceiving the public and convinced them to cut their own throats. Every day more people fall below the poverty level while some corporate executives continue to reap record profits. The economy continues to flow overseas while disposable income declines within our borders. The disparity between rich and poor widens, healthcare and education cost increases, and people are stripped of any recourse due to scrupulous employers and products (Bankruptcy and Lawsuit restrictions).

The more time goes by, the more I am convinced that the Anti-Christ will be someone claiming to be a Christian. What I like to call “The Immaculate Deception.” Perhaps a Born-Again Christian will convince us we are righteous in feeling anger, hate, and fear. Maybe I sound a little off the wall, but then let’s not forget Hitler and the Dark Ages!

I pray the Church will start speaking out against all this political activism and leave God’s word where it belongs; in the Church and out of the Presidency. I would like to think most Christians understand that marriage is between a man and a woman under God, not on a piece of parchment along side the Declaration of Independence. Like Jesus taught us, law is nothing if it is not in your hearts.

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