>Confession: I like soccer.
My current reading project is an interesting one: They Like Jesus But Not the Church, by Dan Kimball. In it, he discusses how the new emergent generation (which is quite a generalization, but that’s not what I’m writing about. This time.) has become so disconnected from the church because of what we’ve done to it. I can’t disagree with this point; in fact, one of my favorite quotes from the book is by Bono when he states, “It’s hard to tolerate Christians. I don’t see how Jesus does it.” If that doesn’t sting a little, then you need to reexamine your priorities.
There’s a brief history lesson in the book, detailing the early church and how it looked to those on the outside looking in. One of my favorite parts of church history is our Incest/Cannibal stage. Those who weren’t part of the cult of Christianity heard us call each other brother and sister (and then marry each other…) and saw us partake of a ceremony eating the body and blood of Christ and immediately thought “these people are NUTS.” I don’t blame them…to the uninformed, that looks a lot like incestuous relationships and cannibalism were the norm and fully supported by all parties involved. The way the early Christians defused this potentially hairy situation (which was compounded by claims of treason…worshipping a Lord that isn’t Caesar) was by getting out and actually talking to those not in the church. We actually used kindness and words and explained ourselves. Shocking.
So lets roll the calendars forward a couple thousand years. We’re in an era where Christians are labeled as bigots, intolerant, hateful, thrifty, elitist…I’m sure you can come up with more unfortunate names we’ve accrued over the years. Especially if you’re in the churches of Christ, we are unfairly (sometimes…) burdened with the sins of others as well as a skewed public perception. Yet, instead of getting out and fixing the problem, we tend to curl up in the fetal position and wail about the “world” and how mean they are and the evils of this lost generation.
That’s the beauty of Kimball’s book: this “lost generation” is actually receptive to Christ! They want to learn about Him, about what it truly means to love. We have just done a terrible job of showing that love to them, so there is this massive disconnect between Christ and His people. So the next time you feel like complaining about being misunderstood or like the world is against Christianity, ask yourself what you’ve done to alter that perception. If the answer is nothing (like it is for me), then shut up and play ball. We’ve done nothing to earn this right to complain. Just like the soccer players, when someone slights us even the tiniest bit, we think its breaking the Geneva Convention. Really, we need to shake the dirt off, and get back out there on the pitch to keep fighting for our Lord.
“Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:38-39