All of this makes me wonder if pews are misleading in churches. They trick people into thinking that Christians learn best by sitting quietly in rows, listening to lectures, and memorizing ideas about the faith. But churches should not be lecture halls.
The above short quote got my attention. It is from a book by Diane Butler Bass entitled Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. I came to the same conclusion a couple of years before I read these words. Churches in general are very misleading of what Jesus expects of us. Yes, I know some of my Christian friends believe that all we are supposed to do is to accept Christ as our savior and then spend the rest of our lives laying back and letting his grace flow over us. To me, nothing could be further from the truth.
I am not one to have memorized the Bible so I can’t say for sure but I don’t believe that Jesus put much emphasis on us being passive followers. I suspect the folks who are aligned with that belief can quote at least a verse or two that if you twist it just right might infer that we are supposed to be passive. I know I read the red letters frequently and what I see is Jesus telling me again and again to actively love my brother and to love God.
Getting back to the quote at hand, I think churches in general do trick people into thinking they are following Christ by just spending an hour a week sitting in the air-conditioned churches listening to lectures and memorizing selected words to back up their static beliefs. To be quite frank, I just can’t understand all the lavish cathedrals built through the ages by the church. I believe in my heart that Jesus never intended that to happen. I totally agree with Ms. Bass that churches should NOT be lecture halls and that includes lectures by the clergy of your favorite flavor.
If we truly want to reflect the heart and message of Jesus we should shut down our lavish palaces we have constructed in his name and move out into the community as he taught us. Jesus did spend a few sparing times in the synagogue but he did not live there, or hide there as Christians today seem to do. As a matter of fact one of the most visible bible stories is about Jesus going into a church to upset the local traditions of the time. He upset a lot of carts in that story and I think we need to do the same for him today.
Let’s quit spending all the money we collect in God’s name on ourselves and instead put it out in the community. Lord knows there are plenty of opportunities for us Christians to make more of a difference in the world today. If we want to be a follower of Jesus we should take his examples to heart and get out their loving the tax collectors, prostitute, poor and destitute in our day as he did in his.