Where Does the Church Belong in 2020

Photo by Regis F on Unsplash

It’s 2019. Do you know where your Church is?

That’s a take on an old parental awareness add from bygone days.

Or so I have been told.

The last three years have been rough on our country in matter of discourse and political turmoil. I think it’s always bad, but it doesn’t seem like Bill Clinton was embattled for the first four years of his presidency as a result of scurrilous charges. Yes, his closing days were a circus because he debated the definition of “is” in an effort to skirt a charge of perjury, that ended up a failed attempt. His defenders said he was the leader of the free world and not its spiritual leader. After all, lots of presidents had fidelity problems.

Or so we were told.

His successor spent his victory lap in the courts, working on shoving a troubled ballot system from Florida into his favor and then went to war in a conflict that now bridges two generations of war fighters. One front to avenge our citizenry and one to protect the world from mass destruction…

We were told…

Next was a man who spent eight years listening to people question his citizenship, his patriotism, his blackness, his open-heartedness, his faith walk, his marriage, his masculinity, his intelligence, and his blue jeans preference. No matter what, the country survived whatever shortcoming people said they saw in him.

Or so I have been told.

Then the majority of people represented in the nation lost its patience for the name calling it endured under the guise of creating equal opportunity for people. Whenever the wisdom of some decisions were questioned, instead of arguing merits, the defenders would simply claim some sort of aggrieved status and force a retreat and apology. Then along came a bloviating narcissist who was rich enough to fund his own opinions and savvy enough to say things that would win a majority of electoral votes and a minority of votes cast.

And ever since then, things have not improved relationally among our people.

I have been told our economy is getting better.

I have been told unemployment is down.

I have been told people are living better now.

But if that is the case, why are so many people unhappy? Why are so many people so angry to the point of true offense to one another in the vein of hatred? And where in the world is the Church?

Some portions of the Church have stepped out into the left to defend every single offense to the heart of God for the sake of attracting people to the heart of God.

Some portions of the Church have crawled into Uncle Donald’s lap and declared him the second coming of King David, hiding behind his fiery twitter account and repeating some of the same offenses to fair play that their opponents enacted during President Obama’s term.

Some portions of the Church have decided to completely ignore politics for the greater good of service to people, but fall awkwardly silent whenever lessons begin to touch tangentially on the issue du jour.

Where does the church belong?

Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash
Photo by Ivan Diaz on Unsplash

The Church, first and foremost, must be close to the heart of God.

Worship is Her primary charter and worship must be Her first effort before anything else. The Church, in her many facets and venues, must seek to raise God above all things. In Her liturgy, She must stand tall and recite with truly inspired heart, the words written for accurate and poetic worship. In her wild and raucous gatherings, She must be mighty, loud, uninhibited, and free. In hymns, harmonized; in worship songs, prepared and biblical; in sermons, researched and rehearsed; and in service, submitted and strong.

Worship brings us close to the heart of God, and that includes to His mind. From the mind of God issues truth, and in truth, we are freed. Not that there is secret knowledge that makes us free, but in the further grasping of the awe-inspiring truths, we are led, time and again, back to the person of Jesus Christ whose sacrifice makes us free.

It was for freedom, we were set free.

Or so it was written.

Before we set foot into one social media conversation or heated personal exchange, we must worship God and therein take on His humility, grace, and love so that we may seek truth together with other people.

The Church must make its business in being close with all people.

It is amazing to me how many problems we find in our world that can be solved with a little human capitol. Imagine if the regulations allowed all help and all helpers access to the problem at our southern border. Imagine how powerless both sides would be to use suffering people against one another like a bludgeon when the people stuck in limbo at our border only suffered from the lack of freedom of movement while their cases progressed through our system. There would be no claims of lack of provision. There would be no pictures of children without safe and loving care. No one could make any claim, whether legitimate or expanded from actual truth because there would be a great cloud of caregivers standing there, loving people.

The Church must must must must must must must spend less time in loving to find fault in people and more time finding people with faults and loving them. People who make good life choices rarely come asking for help with a bill. It happens and people experience hard times. But they never look like they made good choices in the moment of their great need. We must look at each other the way that God, El Roi, the God who sees me, looks at us. He doesn’t see our need as a way to make us want Him. He doesn’t see our desperation as a thing to be despised. He doesn’t see our bad choices as a way to not speak with us. He sees His creation that He values at a commodity price of no less than the blood of Jesus Christ shed on Calvary’s tree.

We cannot seek, with our gathered bodies a greater diversity and then get squeamish when it makes us a little different. It makes us sing differently, speak differently, dress differently, and even speak of social issues differently.

Look, if I could go to church with a bunch of me clones, we would wear t-shirts, shorts and zero shoes all the time.

But diversity has consequences.

And they are beautiful consequences of being better representative of the true picture of the Church. When we are all gathered together in paradise, we will sing in one tongue to the King of Kings and not argue with each other over language, song style, or clothing. We will just sing.

Or so it is written.

Lastly the Church needs to be in the conversation.

The Church does not belong on the right. The Church does not belong on the left. The Church does not belong in the compromise on the middle. Jesus Christ is neither Republican, nor Democrat. He is not a Communist. He is not a Capitalist.

He’s a King.

He’s THE King.

The Church belongs in the right. The Church belongs in the left. Our influence should reach every level of intellectual thought that couples with what is coming with the 2020 election and beyond because our ideas are best. Our ideas are best, not because we’re amazing, but because we have tried all ideas and found the superior way to love, to live, to serve, and to grow. The font of those ideas is a loving God, and not our own brilliant minds. We should never hitch ourselves to a political candidate, no matter how virtuous. We should never attach ourselves to a political party, no matter how much they court our vote with what they say they will champion.

We will value one thing and one thing only in our political influence and that is the pursuit of truth.

Notice, I did not say “our possession of the truth.” The truth is not subject to our control. Some of us have some pretty good ideas about how the truth parses out. Some of us have made a lifelong profession at seeing truth defined. Some of us will even venture to state empirical truths, but the problem is, there is always more to unearth about a truth and the more concrete we state it is, the less we are looking to discover its nuance.

Take the abortion discussion.

The whole thing hinges on whether or not a fetus is a living human being.

If it is not, the pro-life movement has monstrously foisted parenthood on some people who are not ready.

If it is, the pro-choice movement has championed the murder-for-convenience of millions of human lives.

There is plenty we can both sides point at.

But the conversation has become so paralyzed in demonization of one another that we have allowed people to legalize the process of leaving a living, breathing human being outside of the womb to die simply because it wasn’t granted the protection of choice in the uterus.

The Church must stop trying to win at politics and win at influence. We must stop trying to win at truth and satisfy ourselves by pursuing truth with the entirety of mankind. As we pursue truth, we will perceive it more and those who are with us, along with us as fellow seekers, will be pointed more and more to the One Big Truth that makes men free.

Or so it was written.

So in 2020, as the field narrows and the news gets uglier (how, I dunno, but they keep surprising us), please Church, do your job.

Worship the King

Love people.

Pursue truth.

In that road lies the prosperity of the world and its salvation through the One who honors us with the chance to be part of His victory, and not just spectators.

Or so I believe.

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