“So if we say that our slaves are equal but still overwork them, own them, mistreat them, and grossly underpay them, then we still deep down believe in, endorse, support and promote slavery.”
The truth of the above statement, from David Hayward at Naked Pastor, so profoundly impact my core that I can barely read it to myself without tearing up. My last post, part of the SynchroBlog for May, talked about what I have “given up” on my spiritual journey. Most of the SynchroBlog posts, including mine, focused on the baggage we got rid of and in the process of doing so have become more free to seek God (and community) with more authenticity. What my post failed to examine was the pain I experience, even now, as I try to understand how some Christ followers can so easily shut their doors in the faces of others and call it godly.
When I think about most of the institutionalized elements of the Church I vacillate between anger and grief. I am angry because my God is characterized, by the doctrines they choose to promote and defend, as a sadistic, hypocritical, tyrant who gains pleasure from the torture of most of His creation because He holds them accountable for behavior He ultimately controls. I am grieved because my God is characterized, by the doctrines they choose to promote and defend, as a sadistic, hypocritical, tyrant who gains pleasure from the torture of most of His creation because He holds them accountable for behavior He ultimately controls. I am angry because, by the doctrines the institution chooses to promote and defend, more than half those left in the building are rendered voiceless, powerless to make change, and of questionable integrity compared to the others left in the building. I am grieved because, by the doctrines the institution chooses to promote and defend, more than half those left in the building are rendered voiceless, powerless to make change, and of questionable integrity compared to the others left in the building. Ultimately, I am angry because most of those in the institutional Church with the power and the platform behave and preach as though hanging on to their power is not only their sovereign right (they probably call it duty) but is more important than becoming the hands and feet of Christ. And, I am grieved that most of those sitting in the pews seem okay with that.
I honestly do not understand pledging allegiance to the god of the Institutionalized Church. (Granted in a few buildings the god I described is not the God who dwells there but I am talking about a majority of establishments and the vast majority in America). I do not understand what makes that god worthy of worship. Fear and obedience perhaps but worship–no. Nor could I ever described that god as loving. I am stuck, unable to make sense of so great a dichotomy and powerless to manufacture the necessary reasoning. My spirit aches for the deaf and blind creatures, stuck in the institution, swallowing the slop thrown at them by leaders who themselves are stuck. And, my heart aches for a world that desperately needs to see the compassion and grace of the God who loves it. The workers indeed are few and they are fewest within the Institutionalized Church.
Jesus came to set the captives free. And, we are instructed to go and do likewise. We cannot, however, by building power structures which in turn enslave us. We cannot as long as we buy into a hierarchy of “Body” parts. We cannot until we take seriously our own freedom. When Christ died the temple curtain which separated the religious haves from the religious have nots was split in two. Endless cleansing and purification rituals were rendered unnecessary.
I do not hate the institutionalized Church anymore than Christ hated the Pharisees. When Jesus saw what had become of His Father’s house He overturned the tables and chased the money changers out. And, just before His death, when He looked upon Jerusalem, the religious center of the Jewish nation, the Bible says Jesus wept. Like Jesus, I am angered and I am grieved by what we have done to His Church, His body, His Bride.