I've been grumpy and depressed.
Mainly on account of something that is supposed to bring joy, and healing, and peace.
I am having what I think is referred to as a 'crisis of faith'.
Oh, I'm not losing my faith in God, not by any means. I love God, and have faith in Jesus. God did what only He could do, by coming to this existence as a man, living in love, dying in love, and resurrecting in love to break forever the bonds of death and sin. Only God could do that. No crisis of faith there.
No, I guess what I'm having a crisis with isn't God, but the church.
I'm having a crisis with how we do church.
I'm having a crisis with what we teach about Christ and God's love in church.
I'm having a crisis with how we live together (or not, so much it seems) as members of the church.
I'm having a crisis with how we love and how we express the Kingdom of God on earth through the church.
I have a deep longing in my soul to be a part of a like-minded group who sees the Kingdom of God in the same way I do. I have yet to find that group, to be honest.
A group who sees the Kingdom Mission as.....
- a mission to love others without pre-condition. Every person, everywhere, without condition. Period.
- a mission to see every person, everywhere, in every walk and situation in life, as ascribed by God with unsurpassed, immeasurable worth and value. Every person. Everywhere.
- a mission not to judge others - ever.
- a mission to love our enemies, and pray for them, and actually do good for them - desiring that they experience love as well. Every person. Everywhere.
- a mission to learn and live in the beautiful truth that through Christ all is being made new, all is being reconciled to God, and that God wants to save ALL people and bring them into His Kingdom. Every person. Everywhere.
- a mission to partner with God every day, to take up our cross daily in love, to bring about not just our own salvation, but the reconciliation, the justice, the peace and beauty that God wants to bring into this world through his Church. For every person. Everywhere.
- a mission to outrageously love every person the way Jesus did - sacrificing Himself even all the way to death on a cross. For every person. Everywhere.
Jesus did not come to condemn people to hell. He did not come to accept some and exlude others. He did not come to enslave us anew to laws and regulations that trap people all over again in sin and guilt. He did not even come to be a judge!
Jesus came to be the savior of the world. He came to cleanse us from every sin, and every shame, and to give us a brand new life - His life! He came to make us right with God, and to invite us to enter boldly into the Father's presence, as accepted children, loved and cherished. He came to show us how much God loves us, and just how far God was willing to go to save us.
All the way from the unknowable heights of heaven, to death on a cross.
But His love didn't stop there. He arose, victorious over death, having dealt with the Accuser and the accusations against us once and for all. Because of Calvary, death no longer has any sting. Death no longer has any power or claim on us, because God has laid claim to every one of us by virtue of His amazing sacrifice. By His grace we are freed from bondage to anything that separates us from God.
So how do we accomplish this Kingdom Mission? There's as many opinions as there are people on the planet. Which on is right? Which one is wrong? I think the odd dichotomy of the Kingdom of God is that they are all right, and they are all wrong, all at the same time. It just depends on where you are standing at the moment.
But I do know this: the Kingdom of God is unlike any kingdom on earth. It does not operate by the rules of any earthly society, and God never leverages the success of His Kingdom on programs or performances. He leverages the success of His Kingdom on prayer, and on faith, and on His people listening to His Holy Spirit. He leverages the success of His Kingdom on the faithfulness of His people to live radical Kingdom lives, putting God's radical love on display through our lives. Its through our unity and love for one another that the world will know God is love. There simply is no other way.
I think the church of Christendom- the Church Militant and Triumphant, the Church that will win back the country for God and whatnot - is dying.
I think the Church that fuses God and country, and blurs the beautiful, stark lines between the kingdoms of the earth and the Kingdom of God, is dying.
I think the Church that fights against equality and seeks to enforce their vision of Godliness on the culture around them, is dying.
I think the Church that seeks to be the Moral Guardians of society, and tries to define sinners and saints, and judges some for their obvious sins but passes others on their hidden sins, is dying.
I think the Church that gets is worth and value from anything other than Jesus Christ and the work done on Calvary which extends to all of creation, is dying.
I think if the Church does not begin to separate itself out from the culture, and learn anew to follow Jesus into the radical revolution that is God's coming Kingdom, the Church as we know it will die.
Something else will arise in its place, though. A new kind of church, no doubt. God will always have his ekklesia, His congregation or gathering. The ekklesia will never die, but God will, as He has throughout history, do a work to refine and refocus His people on the mission at hand.
I pray that I can be a part of that refining and refocusing, and that my tribe will be a tribe that lives to make a difference, and lives to enjoy life and while living life to the fullest, reflect the brilliant light of God's love to world shrouded in darkness.
The Church exists to dispell the darkness. Let's do that, together.