Caffeinated Jesus – redux

Not a retraction, but an expanding thought.

I have a good friend whom I haven’t seen lately who called me out on my last blog post. (Thanks to Facebook he picked up the thread and touched base with me.) In my Facebook page I referred to big, well-appointed church buildings as “monuments to ourselves,” lamenting the expenditures “…while others are unfed, physically, spiritually, or both.”

My friend rightly accused me of throwing stones; I’m guilty as charged. I am daily guilty of the same complacency that I mentioned in that post. I genuinely appreciate his honesty and willingness to challenge my thought on this matter. He did it discreetly and privately, and I love him for his discretion, and even more for his candor. (I wish only that more would be engaged in this level of dialogue!)

But that exchange made me feel compelled to explore my angst further.

Bear in mind that my criticism is not intended to be aimed at any one church or one tradition. My criticism is aimed at the complacency that I see in my own life, and the complacency that I see manifest among others who claim to be called to a higher standard of behavior. I submit that this is a human condition; it is not unique to any flavor of religion, whether Christian, Jewish, Islam, or other. My comments are from a Christian perspective because that’s what I know best; it’s the tradition I grew up in and to which I still adhere. I have pulled in some of my private message thread because it further illustrates my position (to the extent folks find it interesting).

“We who choose to follow the teachings of Jesus are simply called to follow the life he led. I think we sell that short (I KNOW that I sell it short every day) by neglecting to roll up our sleeves and get dirty helping those who have nothing.

I get really frustrated in multimillion-dollar churches where a modicum of the offering is spent on missions. I haven’t seen the last three budgets but at last read [name of church] had a very small financial commitment to missions, at least compared to capital improvement and payroll/overhead.”

Sidebar here: I failed to clarify in that private message that I don’t think that “missions” is the responsibility of vocational spiritual leaders. Nor do I believe that missions is about preaching, evangelizing, proselytizing, etc. Otherwise it’s too easy to cop out, leave missions to those who are more confident in apologetics, and just write a check and call it good. (Yep, I do that, too. I’m not saying I get this right.) I think it is the very work of righteousness to meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of anyone in need around us at any time. (Good Samaritan, anyone?) But the budget of any organization speaks volumes about where its heart is. Back to my quote:

I’m not throwing stones capriciously; I’m as guilty as anyone. But I’m convicted by that to the point that I feel compelled to air my thoughts on my own blog, which links to my Facebook page. Those on my Facebook page are people who know me at least well enough for me to be comfortable with them knowing where I stand on this. It would be hypocritical of me to feel strongly one way and act another. I continually struggle with what it means to know God and am deeply challenged by the fact that the more I know the less I understand (I think Don Henley said that first – a surprising theologian). Many of my “friends” on Facebook are indeed friends, and I hope that by my angst some of them will join the struggle to dig deeper to try and understand how we can more closely follow the will of God.

At the end of the day (literally, as I wrap this up near 10:30 PM) I simply thirst for dialogue. I am very fortunate to have very close friends with whom I can split bottles of wine and wrestle with nearly Sisyphean questions.

  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: