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.
5 thoughts on “Churches Are Misleading….”
Thanks for the reference Joseph. The Quote of the Day to the right shows that Harvey Cox says the same thing. It is nice to know that we are in good company. When I finally accepted that “church” is not about creeds but actions it make sense of the rest and did change everything….
It is easy (and sterile) to think and moralize. Then we get caught in the trap of self-flagellation as we try to endure the penitent path we create and then fail to walk it. All of this could keep us busy 100% of the time. Then we say, “I’ll get around to loving people one day.” The net result is that no one benefits.
On the other hand, if we refuse to overvalue our piety and refuse to undervalue our love, we will live the life Jesus called us to.
When we stop trying to decipher what Jesus meant by “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” in the quiet of our studies and we go work it out among His people, everyone benefits.
The whole thing is painful…and stinky…and annoying…and maddening at times. But it is like raising children: if we don’t do it, no one will and they will be left to suffer at the hands of fools. So, we push up our sleeves, take a deep breath and get to work.
Joseph, I’m not quite sure what your overall message is on this one but thanks for the thoughts.
I apologize for being unclear! I was simply suggesting the Biblical mandate that might fit as a proof for your assertion: loving Jesus doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Then, you mentioned that your epiphany happened when you realized that it wasn’t about “creeds but actions.” I responded by agreeing that, for some, following Jesus happens only as an intellectual exercise (more agreement with you!). I closed with the picture that Jesus provided for us, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (mercy is an interactive work, sacrifice requires no outside involvement) and the understanding that it can be tough work, but we have to do it. I wasn’t trying to be obtuse. I was just typing faster than my brain was moving so I ended up being regrettably unclear. Again, I am sorry for the confusion!
Thanks for the clarity. Yeah, I understand as I seem to frequently talk faster than my brain. Gets me in trouble sometimes. 🙂 Thank heavens for editing….