I can see a movement growing in our nation. A people who recognize the need for community, for social justice, for something more than the do not's we have had. I see a need for unity, the setting aside of religious prejudices, political prejudices. The church is not dying, it is not all corrupt, and it is not bad. It is only changing. Growing, through the old and the young, into what we need.
It is not that the church is not trying to care for people (not all of it anyways), it is that they are maybe ill-equipped to do so. The poor (the poor in spirit and poor in circumstance) are no longer in our midst as they were in the early church's, they are "out there". That's not ok. It's not our job, our responsibility, to bring them to church. It's our blessing to share love and what we have with them. And we don't need to only go to them. We need to be with them. Does that make sense? When I think of go, I think short term, there's still separation between their lives and mine. When I think of be, I think not of my life and theirs, but of togetherness.
Did not Christ ask us to give up the lives we have had in order to do His work? I know it sounds nice in idea form, but in practical everyday life form it's just not practical. When was Jesus practical? Do you know, I think everyone is prejudiced to some extent when they read the Bible. I know I am. I don't think it's wrong, I think it's wonderful. Wonderful that God made us to reflect Him. Wonderful that He is so MUCH and we don't even have the capacity to reflect Him entirely, and so He made us all different so that we can see His many reflections.
A friend of mine once used the illustration of a diamond. Many facets, same rock. Same Rock. It's the reason I like to go to my charismatic church on saturdays and my baptist church on sundays. Of course the churches are different! God is not flat, He is full. He is so full, the different aspects of Him spill out into different people, and they are only reflections of that.
It is only wrong if you allow your prejudices, the way you see the Word, to allow disunity. If I wanted to go to a church I agreed with in every way, I'd have to start my own. Really, I don't care if a church is about something a little different in one area than I would be so long as they have God, have His Love which they are sharing, and believe that Christ is His son, etc. Is it going to matter in Heaven if you believe in two baptisms or one, or will it matter that you loved? 1 Cor. 3 and Philippians 2:2-3.
I have gone off on a tangent, and I don't remember why, but I don't really want to re read what I've written cause I'm tired and need to go to bed. As soon as I get this out, otherwise I will not be able to sleep.
I just want so much for you to understand what I've been learning and dreaming about. I want to get it out that I believe Jesus talked more about caring for the poor than he did about following rules. I believe the Word emphasizes community, and that's why we're praying and dreaming about starting a community house. I believe God's heart is for the poor, and the socially abused. Read James 1:27, Isaiah 58, Jesus words (any of them), Matthew 12:7, etc. I believe that the extreme individualism to the point of darwinism (survival of the fittest mentality), and love of wealth needs to change, that the change has to start with us.
I believe we need to be lovers of peace, not of war. The church of Iraq prays for us, because it is known that the religious right supports the war. Am I a pacifist? who knows.. but I do believe in peace, I know that much.
I just heard about a group of community houses called the Boiler Rooms, part of the 24-7 prayer thing. The author of Blue Like Jazz writes about his church's journey to community. The Irresistible Revolution is another book that seems to be sweeping across the whole nation. It is all about community, and the houses they have in the Philly and Camden areas that they've been able to love people through. I could mention more.
It's just so exciting to me, to hear and read about the way God is moving through our country. He has a theme, and it's one of love. It goes beyond the normal theology and religious sects and into unity beyond those things. The uniting comes from a heart that has been given to all the children of God. Hopefully we can all uncover that, when it's been covered or shoved aside, hopefully we can all learn what it means if we never knew. Most of all I pray that we will embrace that heart, desiring mercy and not sacrifice, and learn to live through that. With it. In it.
Maybe, I hope, we can show our people the true love of God. Maybe we can break through the prejudices created by "christians" who have become pharisaical and unloving. Maybe, just maybe, they will join our dance.
Once, there was a small group of kids who decided to go to a park in the middle of the city, and dance and play, laugh and twirl. As they played in the park, they thought that maybe another child would pass by and see them. Maybe that child would think it looked fun and even decide to join them. Then maybe another would. Then maybe a businessman would hear them from his skyscraper. Maybe he would look out the window. Maybe he would see them playingand ay down his papers and come down. Maybe they could teach him to dance. Then maybe another businessman would walk by, a nostalgic man, and he would take off his tie and toss aside his briefcase and dance and play. Maybe the whole city would join the dance. Maybe even the world. Maybe... Regardless, they decided to enjoy the dance.
-Shane Claiborne (Irresistible Revolution)