Thoughts on the role of the Church have been swirling within me for a while now. For years I struggle with a much more personal bout with my own calling. From age 17 until I was about 29 I wrestled God and self over what it meant to be called and, ultimately as I found out over time, what it means to surrender my own desires for life to the desires of God (whatever they may mysteriously be). Well, ever since I accepted that, there seemed to be forces greater than me calling me to serve my call within the Church (i.e. to actually participate among the community of believers, rather than rejecting them as I had done for years), I have spent more time observing the Church, her beliefs, her habits, her strengths, her weaknesses and how they interact with the western world AND HERE’S MY THREE SIMPLE OBSERVATIONS:…
1. The Church is impovrishing itself.
This is to say that there are many, many Christians (myself included) that continually are choosing to spiritually misappropriate God’s blessings upon them. The easy-button is placed on the dreaded consumerism argument. As much as we believers don’t want to be told how to make decisions financially, Christ is doing just that…and He’s doing it a lot!
Whilst God is calling our utmost alliegence to Him and the world on His behalf, our personal distractions and indugences continue to offer us an alternative gospel; another truth that speaks more to our individual desires and less to the desires for the greater good of the community.
The result: A crippled Church and a starving world. This is not Socialsim or Communism. This is the Kingdom-ing of Heaven (on earth as it is in Heaven).
2. The World is filling the void of the Church by improvising governmentally!
While the basic needs of humanity increase with time and with population increase, the Church (at least in the west) has continued to meet her own needs. In desperate attempts to justify herself, the Church has been led to institutionalize. The Institution is not inhearently bad. However, with monetary wealth comes worldly power. And here’s the kicker, it seems to me that though Christ remains somewhere in the center of the Church, the individualizing of the Church in the west has disempowered her to be something that looks more like a Wal-Mart or Target than a hospital, more like a country club and less like a public house; more like a capitalized reality and less like a community project.
The Church cannot be compared one-to-one with Socialism. It should be said the god of Socialism, at its academic core, is government. While the Gospel of Jesus Christ calls for everyone to be utterly communitarian, Socialism as a governmental reality does not purely correspond with Christ’s teachings. It is the responsibility of the people to be communitarian but, rather, it is mandated by God and not by a lesser, god-less entity such as worldly government. There are two realms of kingdom: 1. the kingdom of the world and 2. The Kingdom of Heaven – the latter is to envelope and supercede the former.
While Socialism has been seen as the solution to our economic woes, I see this as a supreme insult to the Church’s lack of social action and communitarian response to the needs both in the world and within the existing Church. The government cannot solve the lack of real response by the Church.
3. The Church is still God’s bride!
The Church must be giving! Giving and sharing should be at the core of who we identify ourselves to be. No government should ever be expected or mandated to do what we the Church have disregarded as optional. If the Church is truly the bride of Christ, this must be our mantra (“Do this in remembrance of me,” or “Save all you can and give all you can”).
Christ remains at the center of the Church. How we go forward and re-capture this calling to give faithfully (meaning that we GIVE in full trust that God will provide our needs). Responsible living allows for responsive giving. Are you and I living within our means? Is the money that we earn being fully tithed and then some? Are we giving obnoxiously and living modestly?
I challenge anyone reading this to ask these questions. I encourage each of us here to see our lives and the gifts that God is giving us (as Christians) as perishable and finite….as something better used elsewhere….as something to be shared to the glory of God.
In Christ alone.