In response to the last post about some of the Church's PR problems, Melissa made some important comments that are deserving their own post/thread:
"Here's the question that's been on my mind a lot...with the predominantly negative and oppressive influence Christianity has on so many groups, is it morally right to continue to associate with such a group? If you say yes, do you think that by associating with a mainstream group practicing such horrible things as what is mentioned about makes you more susceptible to practicing those things in turn? Can one stand for greater values like liberty and justice for the oppressed and still be connected to Christian religion with all its history and negative influence on culture?...by being a part of this religion, how do you keep apart from the ones who might be negatively influencing the culture? For that matter, how do you deal with the possibility that at times you yourself as a Christian are doing more harm than good? By you, that is the implied you all."
My thoughts (share yours below!):
|All too common sentiment|
Christ called us to be one with each other and to gather together into a body of believers. He saw the brokenness of organized religion is His day, and definitely was critical of it, but also did not come to abolish the institution. He called for change, while functioning within the established fellowship of Judaism. I think this is a model for us to follow. Even the most misguided of Christians are our siblings in Christ. I think as best as one can, one should stick with the offending organization. "Be the change you want to see…" and all that.
Same goes for individual churches that are broken. It is so easy to get disgruntled with a pastor, or to feel uncomfortable with a certain worship style, or have a grudge against certain members of the church . But I believe Christ calls us to unity beyond our differences. But it’s not easy. In fact, it can be extremely painful and there are sometimes points where it is better to go separate ways (Paul had moments like this), but it must come only after much deliberation and with an understanding of the witness of disunity it gives to the world. After all, if we cannot love each other, how can people trust us to love them?
The church is a family. And like any family we have our crazy uncles, selfish sisters, racist grandparents, and misbehaving children. We don't have to condone any of that and in fact should speak out against it. But we are still family. It can be dangerous, though, as Melissa implies. It is easy to take on others' habits. But that happens with anyone with whom we choose to hang out, not just our siblings in Christ, so we might as well be work for the betterment of the family at the same time.
We remember as well that as individuals we are sinful, and so often make poor ambassadors for Christ. Paul beats himself up for that all time. "We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got back up,” by God’s grace. And by His grace He continues to let us help as He goes about his work. Like a loving parent letting His little child help with the dishes. He knows that a few of them might get broken, and they won’t be cleansed of all of the grime, and it will take twice as long, but He allows us to be in partnership with Him. We have to have faith that ultimately He is in control through our shortcomings.