Monday, July 21, 2014

The Darkside of Christ

It is hard to imagine it but there is one. It is not at all Him or any aspect of Him but that cannot be said of those who have called themselves His body: The Church. A quick look at history from the persecutions of the counter-reformation to the jungles of Guyana to the killing floor in Sarajevo, there has been blood spilled in the name of Christ and it should not be. Much subtler are the lives of those who have been entrapped by religious groups who have claimed a corner on Bible truth and have used such to control, manipulate and destroy lives in short order. I was one of these. This is my wife’s and my personal journey over the last five years into hell created by bad choices made with good intentions all within in a world most of the Christian world knows nothing about but is palpable and vicious. I was not burned at the stake, shot or force to drink from the vat of flavor-ade but I assure you the pain, anguish and destruction was just as real as the any of the aforementioned.
How can this happen to such a heavenly based and sourced entity? It is an old story. Brennan Manning has I believe captured the essence of the problem: The church at large has replaced the Christ with something else. It is no longer a group of people called to a common Savior and trying the best they can upholding one another. It is something else. It is organization. I once told my congregation that the Kingdom of God is not a business and it cannot be run like one. What do I mean by that? We are not here and called to:
1>     Build empires
2>     Self promote our ministry
3>     Recruit people to our cause.
None of the above is what Jesus intended. Yet this is the exact framework of most churches and ministries. I know, I was a part of the ‘business’  at one time. I had a conversation with someone very close to me this past week. She sent me something and asked me my opinion. Basically it was that philosophy could be extracted and synthesized from all religions and come up with standards to live by. A lofty endeavor but in thinking about it, I realized that religion is why one would want to do this. You see religion is the problem. There is nothing good in it. We should not label ourselves as religious people. We are followers. We are not to present a creed, a moral code or even a written codex. We are to present Him. Jesus… Alone and unadorned to people. We need to allow ourselves to be honest and forthright and tell people we have no agenda, we do not see them as a recruit to our cause but a lost soul in need of help and it is the compassion of our God that has allowed us to cross paths. That’s it. We make disciples not by teaching but by example. This was the method of the early church. The problem is we have let a worldly concept into our thinking as it concerns our callings.
Here is a thought: What if a city’s entire Christian population met at a park in the city and held a service where nothing was done other than randomly picking from the group people to testify about their life and how Jesus changed them. How important and how great that day was. Maybe someone would talk about a healing or the re-uniting of a family. At the end a bucket was passed and the proceeds given to feed 5000 children starving in Africa….what if that were to happen every week for a year. How many hospitals, churches, funded missionaries…LIVES would be altered.
What if Christendom were to do this? It would change the world. Jesus would be exalted above every other name.
Yet we build our ‘big box’ ministries that do nothing but make us feel like we are doing something and all the while the planet’s souls are passing into eternity with out one hand of comfort, without a message of hope…without the extended hand of Jesus. We are our brother’s keeper. We are to visit the sick, the old and those in prison. We are to be Jesus to the prodigal and those caught in sin. I ask you where is the church? Where is the body of Christ? It is behind its own walls doing nothing either too holy or too satisfied.
We have lost our mission. We have lost our vision. We have lost Jesus.
There is a darkside of Christ. This is the darkside. Coming from a dysfunctional religious group myself I know the self deception. We spend so much time perfecting our walk we cut ourselves off from a world that needed us. Those that sought to break out and tell the lost about Jesus were run out on a rail and discredited by the Corporate heads. You see, it has become a business and its industry was keeping the people so busy with their own personal walk and how to perfect it, the life was spent as nothing more than burying our talents in the ground.
So what do I do now? Well I am honest. I am a sinner and have problems but Jesus is my hope. He takes me for the clay I am and makes me a better person. Not more holy, not more disciplined but more compassionate and filled with the mercy I have received. This is the light and as time goes by and the church wakes up, they will stop building monuments to themselves and once again travel the Damascus Road.