Can you imagine going to a dinner party where all your friends are gathering? Now suppose one young couple there had brought their 11 month old baby and was relishing with everyone how this little child was beginning to walk.
You know how it goes. The child pulls themselves up on the coffee table and navigates around things. Then they reach out with a big smile on their face and venture a few steps toward mom and dad.
Way up on their tippy toes, tottering and tipping. One little step gives way to another and the child is off on their own, making forward progress. Making strides to the parents who called her.
Now imagine your shock when someone who is supposed to be one of your good friends comments and say: “You call that a walk? She’ll never make it with that walk. That is pretty pathetic. She should walk just like me.”
This illustration highlights something that takes place every single day in cultural Christianity and those trapped in the mindset of fundamentalism.
Because of the way most modern Christian people are taught to relate to the world, they invalidate any spiritual progress, they nullify any effort or motivation toward the transcendent, and like a prig, they hold out blatant disrespect for any person who tries to relate to God outside of the tidy church delivery system. Even small differences within the same denomination can be enough for some to disassociate. It’s a glaring blemish of fundamentalism, not liberation.
It’s the byproduct of a person who is convinced they possess all or at least most of the truth. It’s someone who has certainty when in reality they live among tons of ambiguity that they choose to ignore or diminish.
It’s time we rethink the distribution system of our religion.
Christianity is not the same as our theology.
The Christian message is that God sends his begotten son to make a way for humanity to hear his voice and be changed by it, thus changing the world. Our theologies are all the different theories about how that works. Some may be better than others, but in the end theological constructs are not the goal, but only a means to the end of relating to God.
The moment we become convinced ours is the correct doctrine, we have already put God in a box. And while a person may possess a very robust theology, he or she will inevitably miss God in the process. God is always higher up and further back than our best ideas about him. His ways are not our ways (Isa 55:8).
Test this theory. Ask two church pastors of different denominations to work together. Better yet, ask those of two differing faith commitments. Ask churches and Mosques around the city to join in an effort to feed the hungry or clothe the poor. While there are amazing examples of people working together, the vast majority of the time the answer is: “Not with those people.” Look around the city. How many little silos of religious communities are there that can do no more than barely pay their own bills. Are those examples of bright lights in the city? Our country is littered with tiny enclaves of theological correctness that bear almost no influence on 70% of the people living here. That is not the biblical picture of Jesus’ Church.
And behind it all is a person who sees another persons walk, and says; “You call that a walk?” A person more concerned with the means of how a person relates to God rather than the fact that the relating makes us related.
Scripture depicts an amazing banquet where every tribe, nation, and tongue will gather together in honor of the host.
Trust me, you don’t want to be the jerk at that dinner party.
One thought on “The Jerk at the dinner party.”
I do sometimes wonder how strange Sunday mornings appear when I ride my bike around town. When I see the traffic and packed parking lots in certain neighborhoods, I try to put myself in the shoes of someone who’s not a Christian and the only impression I get is this air of exclusivity. I would see people scurrying about getting into buildings as if it’s some big secret. Like I’ve heard before, if that’s what Christianity really was about, I wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Although I may have a bit more insight than that, I can’t blame someone else for thinking how strange and backwards it seems. The message of Christianity is often hindered, not helped, by its carefully controlled delivery (through the “proper channels”) to the outside. But I don’t think there ARE proper channels. Christianity, like life, finds a way, any time, any where, to any ONE. No one is an outsider if you open up the church to the world instead of holing up on Sunday and leaving it behind. I think we still need to strike a balance between sound instruction for equipping, in a building or wherever, and literally getting “out there” in our worlds to shine.
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