Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Failure of the Church

This will be my last post of the weekend. 

I listen to a lot of Christian radio, although I am not always sure why.  Sometimes it is because they are playing some unlistenable music on NPR station; up until recently it was because I didn't know there is an oldies station again in Chattanooga.  Other times I listen to Christian radio because it's a speaker (like Alistair Begg) I want to hear; other times the music is palatable.  But you end up hearing a lot of things you just have to shake your head at.  It sometimes feels as if they have to fill up 24 hours a day, and the quality just plain suffers sometimes.

The other day a speaker was waxing ineloquent about how much we fail as Christians, as the church.  I had to wonder (and only because I get in devil's advocate moods, not because I have any knowledge about the subject) if Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Baptists, and Catholics get told they have failed all the time.  That's just about all we get told as evangelical Christians--you failed; you don't measure up; you are a disaster as a follower of Christ; you aren't feeding the poor; you aren't evangelizing; the world is a mess and it's your fault. 

I don't think I am exaggerating.  Who wants to listen to that?  Seriously?  I don't.  I am tired.  If I compare myself to an omnipotent, omniscient, all-compassionate, all-sacrificial, all-loving Christ, I will always be a big fat zero.  And you know, that may be all right.  If I am so all-fired set on not failing, who is it about? 

In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes about setting up a tent for confession at Reed College.  In the tent, the Christians apologized to the nonbelievers for all the bad stuff the church did in history.  Sorry, I have enough sins of my own to deal with.  I am not apologizing for the Crusades.  I am not apologizing for slavery--I have it good authority none of my ancestors owned slaves.  Not to say I haven't benefited from white privilege, but that's a different matter.

The heart of evangelicalism is obedience and change, transformation.  And the church has let the secular media make us feel like we are the cause for poverty and just about every other evil in this world just because it is our responsibility to end it (not sure where that came from) and we haven't, so we have a really wrong perception of ourselves because of it.  It's time to celebrate our successes instead of beating ourselves up over what hasn't been done yet.  It's time to honor the faithful who are on the front lines instead of the celebrity Christians (the world's biggest oxymoron).  The Larry Peppers, for one; Dr. Pepper and his wife work with AIDS patients in Tanzania.  I could name others.  If I did some research, I could name thousands of others. 

This is not to excuse our materialism.  I am not sure whether our succumbing to sexualization of our culture or materialism are the worse of our American sins.  We've got a ways to go, but there is no value in beating ourselves up. 


Becky Wooley said...

Don't get me started on Sunday morning television.

Barbara G. Tucker said...

Ha! I say that a lot too-"Don't get me started." People know that's my code.

Mindset, Passion, and Learning Revisited: Why Not To Follow Your "passion"