This post is off-topic. I make no bones about it. It is not about social media, web technologies, startups, product reviews or anything else I normally talk about. It’s about my faith. I will not be offended if you choose not to read, I only ask that you respect my beliefs and the beliefs of anyone who chooses to comment here. I will be aggressive in comment moderation because there is nothing more divisive in this world than religion. Politics is right up there, but faith is something far more personal, and therefore, far more villified.
Today is Good Friday. As someone who has grown up in the Christian tradition, I struggle with it. I’ve often said that my faith in God has not changed, so much as my faith in the Christian tradition – that is, what we call “church”.
As a pastor’s kid, I grew up going to church, and knowing the Bible. I still do. Very well. The very core of my existence is based on how I was raised, and I thank my very godly and loving parents for raising me the way they did. I have no regrets, nor do I feel like I’ve walked away from God in anyway.
I have, however, walked away from Church. This will be the first Easter Sunday that I am not in church. Do I feel wistful? Maybe a little. But then I think about the hypocrisy of so many in the church. The desire to put on an image in front of those who might think less of them. To somehow please God through their behavior, as if God wasn’t aware of their behavior through the week.
I don’t care about their behavior. We are all sinners. We do things. It’s humanity. It’s the curse. We lie, cheat and steal without batting an eye. We say things in one sentence and do something else, because situational ethics allows us to rationalize our behaviors. It’s part of the curse of being human, and I don’t fault anyone for anything they do.
The essence of the Gospel, as conveyed by Christ, is that not one of us is perfect and that if God can forgive us, then perhaps we should love each other enough to forgive as well. That is the long and short of Christianity, right there. Sure, we can get all theological and discuss the merits of Calvinism or Arminianism. We can debate the process of sanctification. But it doesn’t really matter, at the end of the day. These are conversations that don’t happen in daily life, just as much as we don’t have conversations about the resistance factor of capacitors on an electronic circuit board in everyday life.
Late last year, my dad who is still very much a “church” guy, yet clearly understands that I am not, sent me a podcast to listen to. He genuinely wanted to know my thoughts on it, and I promised I would formulate my thoughts and let him know when I did. I never did. In a way, I’m making up for that right now.
In this podcast [here], the speaker, a well known evangelical, explained to a group of Bible School students the concepts behind Chaos Theory. It was quite bizarre to listen to, actually. I’m not used to such nerdy speak in these types of venues. He explained that Chaos Theory supposes that in all the supposed chaos in the world, there is actually an order to things. That if you examine concepts such as the Butterfly Effect, patterns emerge from the perception of chaos. (Incidentally, the theory is somewhat counter-intuitive since the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that everything left to itself progresses continuously toward disorder).
The concept is that the Kingdom of God exists continually, even when the systems put in place by humanity dissolve in an unordered way. That the Church of today is in chaos, yet the purpose of God transcends the chaos. This article certainly isn’t to cast judgment on anyone, yet this chaos in the church can clearly be seen in high profile secret conduct of evangelical leaders, the unequivocal bigotry (whether intentional or unintentional) of the religious system that deals with the society, both political and cultural, in existence today.
This is not the way it was supposed to be and it is the reason why I am not in church.
So on this Good Friday, the day we remember the death of Christ, and Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate his resurrection, I put this plea to the church of today: Please stop vilifying those who don’t fit your agenda. Stop demanding government involvement in the role that Christ himself gave to you: be salt and light, and change the world. Understand that people are people. It’s the curse of humanity. Stop pretending to be holy when you can’t cast the first stone. Don’t hide behind your theology and presumptions that have been passed down. Your basis is your faith, not your intellect. Take that faith and find your God.