Every year I um and ahh about writing a blog like this… and the last couple of years I haven’t, but Friday night I woke up with some stuff on my heart, so here it is…
So it’s Easter 2019… which for many like me, means extra public holidays and time to spend how I please. But also for many like me, it is a significantly important weekend. It is the weekend purposefully designed to stop and reflect on the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus… it’s the weekend that celebrates my hope, my joy and my salvation, but quite easily gets swallowed up with family adventures and house renovations. Which are not bad things… they are just not the reason for the weekend.
Last night I woke up with Christianity on my mind… I had been thinking through the day about Good Friday and how it is typically experienced at church… it’s a service and event that I have always struggled with… not because I am uncomfortable with reflecting on Jesus’ death… but because my eyes are always set on life after Sunday. Life post Jesus’ resurrection. I know without Friday, I can’t have Sunday… but I am not good at sitting in the atmosphere of Friday and Saturday when Sunday has already come. Anyway… that’s a blog for another Easter… On my little Good Friday mind rabbit warren… I started thinking about things I have seen in the news recently, and just general discussions I have had over the last little while… let me list a few
- George Pell, the Catholic Church… other churches and institutions that have allowed children to be victims of violence that should not have ever been thought of in God’s house let alone perpetrated.
- The fire at Notre Dame and the contrast of responses… the french hymns and songs being sung outside as it burnt, the devastation, the volume of money magically offered for its repair and tension between being able to find millions of euro to rebuild a church… but not to feed the hungry or to house the homeless
- Israel Folau, free speech vs inclusion, honesty vs acceptability and when to be silent and when to speak out.
Right now the Church and Christianity are not all that popular. For a very long time the Christian Church in the western world has been a safe space, a moral compass… and now… it’s not seen like that… the Church has let people down, it has made mistakes, and it is often misunderstood. Sure there were thousands of years of Holy wars and terrible decisions made by the church, but for most of my life… that was history and the ‘Church’ was ok… maybe even good according to the world, it was part of the picture of wholesome family life… but now, not only is the Church not seen as safe… but the world is quick to condemn it, to call it out and quick to reject it. I have often watched people with other faiths have their beliefs embraced and welcomed in the name of inclusion, but have been made to feel uncomfortable offering a christian perspective or heaven forbid a prayer, because christianity is now longer welcome. And in fear whinging, I understand that my previous lack of persecution has come from a place of privilege. And the fact that I have not experienced this type of exclusion until now is blessing and one not experienced by many around the world. But I am not here to sook, or excuse the Church… because I can handle myself and my faith… And in some things I think the world has been right to question and challenge the church. I think the church should be held accountable, after all we claim to be called to a higher standard… one it has time and time again failed to live up to.
Here’s thing… there are many things about my own church, and the wider church that I don’t understand, decisions, attitudes, behaviours, that to me seem not only unchristian, but also fall far short of the calling and the purpose of the Church. It also doesn’t reflect Jesus… I believe Jesus would be and is just as frustrated by the church as the world is. Jesus didn’t come to bring pain, suffering and exclusion… in fact he spent his life on earth actively trying to restore people and communities. Jesus came because he loves the world… all of it… regardless of race, culture, sexual preference, gender, attitude, privilege. he doesn’t care how good or bad, rich or poor, in or out someone is, He loves them all the same. He calls them all the same. And if the church isn’t showing this, then it is the church that is wrong. The cross equals love… nothing more and nothing less… it is about reuniting and offering undeserved reconciliation between creation and its creator. That’s the Jesus I know and live for anyway.
So this Easter… please accept my apology for being another Christian that will have been a bad example of Jesus for you at some time and contributed to the mess that is the Church… The Church is broken because it is filled with ‘works in progress’, but unfortunately we can’t do faith well without it… because God also created us to live in community with each other and with the trinity… most of us are trying our best to love the world as Jesus would, but we don’t always get it right. So for just a minute, forget about Christians and the Church… and take a moment to seek Jesus… you will see how quickly the rest falls away when held up to the light of His love. Because that is what Easter is for, it’s what it is about… the cross equals love… not just for others, but also for you.
“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
John 3:16-17 The Message (MSG)