Poisoning the Well
"With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water."
How can you sustain a people on a foundation of fear, the love of power, money, force, and a religion that is more concerned about its own security, preservation, and rights rather than showing the love they are suppose to be manifesting?
The Church has become a debilitating system of fear and pain. Instead of growing from glory to glory and faith to faith, the Church is growing from fear to fear and pain to pain; seemingly inflicting fear and pain at almost every possible opportunity. Perhaps it can be argued that the human condition is self-preservation at all costs. The church probably looks back towards its infancy and can't help but notice the many Christian lives lost and that of their beloved Savior. Yet, the point of this loss is lost on them, they still don’t get it. Does not the Bible teach that death to self makes one alive to God? But they spend so much time in self-preserving their own rights and freedoms. Amazingly the hypocrisy of their actions is most evident when the rights they want preserved for their own benefit is used to eliminate the rights of others and when the standards they hold the rest of the world to, they themselves fall short of.
The exhibition of the Ten Commandments in the public arena, for example, does nothing more than promote an alienating hate for a belief system that all citizens of this country may not ascribe to, namely because it’s seen as a forced way of trying to outwardly keep people in line. Courthouses are like public squares and to meld civil law with religious belief and dogma is a recipe for more heinous crimes than could ever be imagined and a testament to the religious crimes of centuries past and present. We as a people lose nothing by not having these monuments erected and we gain nothing by having the same.
Did God really sign off on this?!
One of the amazing things about the common church (perhaps ONLY in America) is the arrogant notion that what the majority of Christians find important and worth fighting and dying for might not be what God is ultimately interested in at all. The Christians’ fight has increasingly become a fight not against principalities and powers but against flesh and blood, the very creatures we were encouraged NOT to fight against and against the very teaching we were encouraged to uphold. The Church has become more and more a mechanism possessed not by the Holy Spirit but with the idea of controlling behavior from the outside versus praying and loving people as a means of changing their hearts and thus changing their behaviors. I believe that the Church is far more concerned with keeping people from doing things, which the Church deems as “sin,” rather than compassionately and lovingly coming under and alongside their “victims” with support, understanding, and love. Love—a concept, which many people, including Christians, have an infantile understanding of.
Instead of attracting the outcast and the “sinner,” the Church has established itself as the ultimate persecutor and judge. The very things that the Church preaches against are the very things she has exemplified in her thoughts, words, and deeds. She has become the ultimate hypocrite and bigot. May her mantra cease to be “Taking America back for God,” but instead “We have seen the enemy and they are us!”
Christians are afraid of being persecuted yet they persecute others. They are afraid of being judged yet they judge others. The finger pointers of our society happen to be the very instruments God supposedly set here to be the bridge builders. Yet, the Church fights on to legislate morality and ethics instead of living it out. They have substituted a spiritual behavioral mandate, to live in love, with letters of law written to force people to adhere to their standard of right and wrong, something Jesus NEVER promoted nor taught his disciples to do.
Christians' “fear” that America would “slippery slope” into godlessness is unfounded and unwarranted. America will never be god-less any more than it would ever be god-full. So long as there are Christians and people of faith in this country, America will never be godless. But so long as there are those whom the Church seeks to ostracize, marginalize, and work against, America will never be god-full. So long as the Church continues to seek moral and ethical legislation (or legislation designed to increase/promote moral or ethical behavior or curb “sin” and godlessness/immorality) they will be seen as the ultimate Pharisees of our time – heaping laws and restrictions on people in their naive and arrogant notion of doing the “will of God,” yet refusing to lovingly support, come under, or alongside those they profess are living in “sin” and lawlessness.
The absurdity of the Church seeking to pass laws to promote righteousness (right behavior) is that with all the laws within their own holy writ, their own teachings proclaim that the letter of the law kills but the spirit gives life. If it were laws that were needed to influence people to righteousness, then the Levitical laws of the Jews would have been most sufficient and Jesus’ death would have been unnecessary. And if the law could have brought us to righteousness (right standing with God) then the death of Jesus is null and void. The Church is pre-occupied with a futile battle, I dare say war, of trying to control people’s behaviors from the outside. However, they conveniently forget that their kingdom is one of the spirit and NOT of the flesh. God is more concerned with what goes on in a person’s heart and mind rather than his/her outside appearance and actions. A right heart and mind will promote right actions. Therefore, He said that He would write His laws on people’s heart and not on slates of stone, and indeed not on paper.
It is a grave understatement to suggest that the Church has failed or is failing in her divine mission and mandate. The Bible states that Jesus would return for a Bride (the Church) without spot or wrinkle. Unfortunately the blemishes on her gown are not due solely to her sins and hypocrisies but also to the blood of her victims. The Church has consistently trampled heavily upon the lives of those she was meant to minister love and compassion to. Too often this has resulted in the deaths of the very people the Church attempted to reach. When the Church has chosen to utilize the power of the sword, she has willingly stepped down from her divine call to live in love. The Bible clearly states that what one sows is what one reaps. Hence, the Church must soon realize that those who live by the sword shall surely die by the sword. If she continues to yield the sword then she will die by the same. In the universe of divine law, there are no exceptions - what goes around, comes around. The only alternative given to her (which, by the way, should’ve been the only choice ever made) is to live in love. Love is love’s own reward; an excellent example of sowing and reaping.
Do as I say and not as I do!
The Church has the erroneous impression that to minister the word to the world she should conquer it and subject it to her message. This is NOT how Jesus touched the lives of the people around Him. Never by the sword, coercion, fear, or legislation, which, of course, He had all right and power to do (if indeed He was the very Son of God). Jesus taught about meekness, love, and how people with these and similar qualities would inherit the world. But why is the Church so pre-occupied with the sins of others rather than her own offenses? Why is “first remove the plank from your own eye before you can remove the splinter from your brother’s” almost never applied to those in the Church? Why has arrogance rooted itself in the pews of the Church causing her to believe herself the moral steward and watchman of this world? Our responsibility is to live out the love of a Savior who died for ALL mankind and NOT just those who believe.
When the Church assumes the position of knowing emphatically what God is ultimately concerned about in all areas of human existence and believing to have the edge on what is supremely right and wrong, she tends to lord this belief over the people she’s trying to reach. Jesus however took the position of humble servant rather than pious judge. Influence through loving servanthood is not often a practice you see among many Churches and professed Believers today. Only when the Church can discern the intents, thoughts, and hearts of others can she hope to be a fair judge of the affairs of man. Otherwise, she should leave the judging to the only one who knows all things.
When the Church participates in sweeping condemnations of certain groups of people without the understanding of each stance, view, belief, motive, and history she continually proves that she cares not of compassion and understanding but only of her particular brand of faith and belief, regardless of how right she deems those beliefs to be. What the Church fails to understand is that those she is trying to reach often believe as devoutly, if not more, in their own views than many people in the Church believe in theirs. Unfortunately when Christians confront strong held beliefs of others the outcome is usually negative. History is littered with the atrocities of the Church’s unsuccessful confrontations and attempts at changing others' beliefs in acquisition of her own. I am not saying that the Christian Faith is wrong (in a manner of speaking), just the methods she often uses to convert others. By forcing others to convert by the use of laws and fear is NOT an optimal method of conversion. Often times this method creates resentment, anger, and hate towards the Church.
The cruelest irony about the Church’s faith in legislation is not her attempts at passing laws in the hopes of converting those who are in “lawlessness,” but merely in the hope of underhandedly subjecting others to the Church’s values and beliefs. If you can’t get the masses to abide overtly, then do it covertly. This seems to be the Church’s stance nowadays. However, legislation is merely another utilization of the power of the sword to coerce people into a certain way of acting. The same sword she uses might just be the same sword that destroys her. Her overconfident protests and efforts often backfire and seriously cripple her ministering endeavors. Me thinks she protests too much.
What does the Church fear most?
The Church began as a small group of Jewish believers (always remember that this is fundamentally a Jewish religion with a Jewish savior). Their leader had just been murdered and miraculously resurrected. The message of love and redemption spread quickly. People’s lives were being changed, healed, and the Church’s numbers grew rapidly as both Jew and Gentile entered the fold. The Romans, seeing the potential threat Christianity posed, started to crush this growing influence in their empire. Hence, probably igniting a major enemy and persistent fear of the Church – persecution and death through persecution.
Persecution and death through persecution has ever plagued the Church, yet she continued to grow by leaps and bounds until her influence swept across the Roman Empire and was later accepted as Rome's primary religion. This ushered in another chapter in the saga of the Church. From a persecuted and fearful beginning, the Church had become a global force and mechanism of tyranny, judgment, persecution, death, fear, genocide, slavery, hypocrisy, bigotry, and murder. And although great things have been done by the Church throughout the ages, the atrocities of the Church’s past and her present wrangling undermine her glorious call to live and minister in love. She has, in many ways, become the very entity that tormented her two millennia ago. She has become that which she assimilated (or what assimilated her). And the church has made it common practice to assimilate or be assimilated into the world instead of presenting something different - something far more profound and creative. Indeed you are what you eat!
The Church, after the Roman appropriation, was imbued with such political and worldly power that she became a tool of the state rather than a vessel for God. And every war since, when waged by Christian frontiersmen and women, can only justifiably be called Holy Wars. She has, for centuries, prided herself on her powerful achievements however grossly inhumane they might have been. And the irony is that her malevolent accomplishments have been done in the name of a benevolent, loving, and holy God!
What do men and women with power want but more power?
The Church has striven towards this one goal - more power - and unfortunately towards the ending of this world, as will be discussed later. She has coveted her prestigious position of power and thus rounds out her trifecta of fears: fear of persecution, fear of death from persecution, and her loss of power and prestige.
Because of the Church’s often undisputed and unsuccessfully rivaled influence in the world, it is easy for her to hide her internal fears behind a visage of divine benevolence and gold-crusted edifices. Like the whitewashed tombs of Jesus’ day, the Church has proven herself inept in successfully living out the mission that she has been called – to minister the love of Christ lovingly. If the church truly ministered to the world lovingly, stigmas against the Church would stop. The Church is often known more for her infliction of harm, pain, fear, and disunity rather than hope, love, unity, respect, and understanding. Hence Gandhi’s lament that “I'd be a Christian if it weren’t for the Christians,” and the other popular prayer, “Jesus please save me from your followers.” Quotes like these, if the Church were really living up to her calling, would cease being uttered.
One cannot give that which one does not have. And the Church is no exception. Could it be the reason the Church is known for her lack of love is because she genuinely does not possess enough of it? Her fears will be her demise and with her, the rest of the world’s. As the wise Jedi master, Yoda once said, “Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” And the Church has caused a lot suffering through the millennia. A perfect example of her utilization of fear is most evident in her evangelizing and conversion methods. The Church has, through the centuries, proven that her most effective way of converting “sinners” is through the use of fear, often at sword point or gunpoint. Her practice betrays the message. St. Augustine once said that you should “Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.” The Church has become self-defeating in that what she often practices is contrary to what she preaches and demands from others. Jesus said that you would know a tree by the fruit it bears. If Jesus is the epitome of the good tree then what does that make the Church? Again the Bible states that faith without works is dead. May I suggest that the Church’s faith is not entirely in the love of Christ but again in her legalistic prowess, her power mongering, and in her own delusions of what God might want? Show me your works and I shall show you where your faith lies.
World Without End, Really?!
(Go home Church, you're drunk!)
Throughout the ages the Church has ever been intoxicated with the world’s end - like a drunken whore in the filthy gutters of the world. May I also suggest that she has been a primary culprit in bringing it to pass? With the book of Revelation at the helm, the Church has seared into the global consciousness a picture of inevitable doom, sheer terror, and utter destruction. And whether or not their scenarios come to pass as many preach they will, based upon their various held interpretations of the end times, the inevitability of these events are all the more certain not so much because it has been written but because the Church can hardly focus on anything else. What one focuses on expands and I do believe the Church, as a whole, has been slow to realize the power of unity and that of a uniting vision, be it for good or for evil.