I wanted to layout some further thoughts from my rambling post on Monday. First of all, thank you to everyone who commented, it really lent me some insight. So, undoubtedly, some of what I write below is in response to some of the thoughts shared. I’m also encouraged that so many people have found churches that break the traditional mold I tend to see everywhere I go. So, my thoughts below aren’t about individual churches (if the shoe doesn’t fit…), but rather a question or thought about the “Christian” community as a whole.
People, inside of the church and outside, have a lot of different views of this book. It’s authoritative History, good advice, fairy tale, or oppressive manifesto. It’s ancient for sure, but like many old text, there are some tidbits of advice that are universal. Christians claim the Bible as their authoritative text, but most don’t seem to have ever read it themselves. I think they should read it. But, then there’s also the crew that jumps on the Bible-in-a-Year bandwagon and attempts to cram through the whole book time and again. My main concern is that we are reading but not doing what it says. And by doing what it says, I don’t mean condemning people who don’t believe it’s rules, but rather following the admonishes ourselves (Love your enemies, Feed the poor, put others before yourselves, do not judge, etc). I’d almost think we’d be fine just putting away our Bibles for the rest of our lives and spend our time actually trying to implement what we know we should and aren’t.
Most of my thought falls into the same category as the Bible. Isn’t there a point when the pastor, or the group, re-evaluates and says “this isn’t working.” There’s benefit to public speaking, informing, challenging, etc. But when a large group of people get together week after week to motivate themselves to follow Jesus and do what the Bible says, isn’t there a point when you raise a question as to whether it’s actually happening or not? I’m not an outsider by any means, but I think any logical person could spend a few weeks around a church and say there is a huge gaping difference between what they are preaching and what they are doing.
Part two of sermons is this idea that one person in an entire congregation (almost always a male) some how is gifted to be the only one who speaks to the entire group on a weekly basis. I’m sorry, but I see absolutely no basis for that in the Bible I read.
Some people love the music at church. I used to, but now I can’t stand it. My opinion of the singing is really summed up in this one passage, Amos 5:21-24. Part of which reads:
“Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!”
I can’t imagine we’ve come much farther then the Israelites in those days, in fact, I think we are probably in many ways far worse.
Communion and Sacraments
I feel similar about these as the Music above. I don’t want to diminish the value of rituals or sacred acts, I think they are a very important part of ours or any culture. And yet, they’re sacredness to me is so diminished by our inaction, that in many ways I struggle to see the value at all.
And I’ll be honest, especially for all you non-Christians out there, I just find communion bizarre. I dig that it was originally done at a passover meal, and it’s connection to the Hebrew prayers over the bread and wine at Passover and Shabbat. But, the whole drink my blood and eat my body stuff? I still don’t get it.
Most folks who gave their reason behind church mentioned community. I couldn’t agree more. I think church has been a great way for me to meet other people from my community (both geographically and common values). However, simply community, in and of itself, isn’t a very compelling reason to attend. Many people find deeper community with others through a whole host of other activities (sporting events, meals, video games, cooking, hobbies, outings, etc). Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate of community, I just think pointing to church (particularly Sunday morning) as an example of deep Christian community is pretty disappointing.