Disappointment with the Contemporary Church
I woke up before my 8:30am alarm today. No insomnia.
You guys, I am rather upset right now. I’m calm and whatnot, but something is not okay.
How have Christians’ screwed up the church this bad? I was just reading about the history of the church from basically Paul and Peter and the early ministry stuff until today, and I’m at a loss here.
I know that God divides things. He divided things from the moment they were created in Genesis. Jesus is coming back to unite things. Solid.
What I don’t understand is why humans display the same rigid stupidity and intolerance that they cast stones against, and then do so in the name of piety. That is obvious. No one should understand that, because it goes against God’s truth. If you have understanding of what is untrue, then that is a problem. It is not just that the knowledge of what is untrue will lead you to sin, but the doubt that the not true presents up against what is true (and of God).
Great, so good so far. But reading about different movements and differences between people, I’m reminded sharply of how confused and lost I was trying to find any kind of church coming home from Chile.
I was more or less raised/exposed most to Methodism growing up. I hated it, but I still went. As I grew depressed, it was actually harming my faith through hypocrisy, so I stopped going. Hoping to seek God in college, I joined our campus ministry, which went up in flames while I was abroad. In Chile, I went to an evangelical church. I don’t all of the evangelical Christian theology and application was a perfect translation, but our pastor at the church did know a good amount about the bible, and it was good for me to learn things about the fruits of the spirit and definitions of sin (defined by the result) and things like that while I was abroad. It gutted the normative contemporary context and made it more understandable as applied from an outsider perspective. I was an outsider. It made sense.
Coming home sucked terribly in trying to figure out where to go to church. I asked many friends who were Christians from Chile (both US citizens and Chileans), people I had known at home, and people I know in the Methodist church for some direction in helping figure out where to worship. I love my friends to pieces, but I salvaged very few if any practical tips I could use. Part of it was that most of my US friends on study abroad were from various parts of the country and different faith backgrounds. Part of it was that most of my friends at home couldn’t tell me why one church was better than another. They invited me to church and some even gave me rides, which was excellent. But until I found the church I am currently at, something wasn’t right. I kept looking. I found the church I attend now.
What makes me most confused when I think about all of this stuff and I read theology as it is explained to me is that there are no common sense distinctions or definitions about why there are even denominations. I don’t think people even think about it anymore. There is no obvious explanations of the Gospel as a history that lives. The people who are most likely to condemn you are also the people who are most likely to know what the hell their talking about, in terms of having studied the Bible. The people who are most likely to not be jerks are the people who are most likely to have barely ever attempted to read the Bible on their own, and no basically nothing about the character of Jesus. There are few if any churches I know that consistently work together, across class, race, demographic, or any kind of valuable and real distinctions. It’s as if race, ability, sex, or anything that isn’t nailed down and proselytized over hundreds and hundreds of years of rhetoric (that is more often than not garbage) is off the table. I’m sorry, but that is reality. Where the hell have you been?
Moments like this, I turn to common research and secular explanations. As long as my heart is still set on God, I don’t know how this could be a problem. Is our faith really so weak in context that the Secular Witch Doctor of your soul is going to voodoo you some crazy mysticism curse that will make you fall in love with the Accursed Humanities and become a vegan? I know plenty of cool vegans, and the I don’t know how the people I grew up with could be the Liberal Satanic Enemy unless they were as unkind as some of the people that call them that.
So, knowing that no one is going to give me a straight answer and that the pissing contest being Mysticism and Intellectualism and any other popular explanation that is poorly contextualized and straight up incomplete in a lot of ways is millennia old, I turn to the Pew Research Institute. This is what I had to do when I came home. For whatever reason, I thought that was a bad idea then. It’s not. It makes so much more sense, given the garbage context and three ringed circus of faith many people are currently living if they care even a smidgen about Jesus. I just don’t understand how one person’s bad definitions could be any more or less bad than another’s. All of these denominations split off eventually as a result of stubbornness and conflict between two opposing ideologies in one church. It kept dividing and kept dividing like some massive ego spore until we exploded into what we have today. Is any of that a surprise, given the Garden of Eden?
If people get pissed off reading this, what the hell ever. I never signed up to pick sides in something that is side-less: Jesus. I deciding to believe in him of my own free will, knowing that he had the ability to save me from my sin more and more over time, and my faith has grown pretty strong as a result of listening to Christ over most of the mainstream nonsense that I can’t understand and won’t try to know. I think it’s a bad joke that to really learn about scripture, I have to go to Seminary and effectively pick sides. Oh hell to the no. I am going to learn a lot about Jesus, a lot about the Gospel, learn a lot about churches and the world and how he loves people regardless of who they are, and guess what? I am still going to serve him only.
Why is this so stupidly complicated? There is one messiah. There are billions of other dumb humans. None of us can be the messiah, it was freaking Jesus. None of us can rise above sin without the help of God through Christ. Why are we putting our names on stupid research summaries and theological works of fiction and buildings and monuments and crap when it is very heart wrenchingly obvious that people die constantly and we are most @$$holes to those specific people? How can we keep ignoring all of this? It makes me almost need to puke.
If calling all of it complete garbage makes it so that I can never find a “traditional” job for the rest of my life, great! All the traditional jobs at this point are mostly for people who can’t acknowledge what the world has turned in to. I will find some way to serve and survive because my God looks after me. What the hell do people even want, anyways? I was never able to figure this out. Either I believe in Jesus and accept things that are somewhat callous and totally not practiced in any meaningful way, or I don’t really believe in much of Jesus and I can be a good person. You want to know why you have no young people in your churches? There is the stupid answer.
I don’t get it. I believe that Christ is literally all I need. I believe in his power to save. I believe in his supremacy over all the garbage any one of us sees, reads, thinks, or feels on a daily basis, and he has done great things for me. If he did great things for me when I did not really care to know him and he does great things for me now, WHY THE HELL would I make that any more complicated than he does? It’s like people never realized that a) none of us is perfect, b) none of us can be perfect, c) none of us should be perfect, and d) CHRIST IS PERFECT.
Why are you a Christian if you don’t want to be more like Christ?? This could come in practicing dying to yourself so you can learn how to walk in faith. This could mean actually opening your Bible. This could mean taking some time away from yourself and serving your community and the people with needs that go unmet inside of it. I don’t understand how this could ever be more complicated than the obvious truth that God is great and we are not. He is perfect. We don’t have to be. I thank God that I was not raised within a church for the most part and that I left to practice self-care, otherwise I get the feeling that the remnants left of my faith would have been utterly destroyed. I’m not mad with the Church necessarily; I just think we can do better. There are very real consequences mentioned in Revelation for anyone who actually cares to pay attention, and I think it’s a freaking joke that if I talk about Revelation and the fact that my Savior lives, people think I’m a raving lunatic no matter what faith perspective you were born into or decided to promote! They are all flawed. Why should it be a contest about who is most flawed? Shut up and listen to Jesus. So simple. My head hurts.
Gifts that I have, experiences that God has given me as a testimony of his power, things that I just accepted and didn’t question, that is no different than anyone who is just trying to be a Christian. I don’t have much traditional time with this, sure, by my God is good and I don’t have to have a manifesto in one hand and a writhing on the ground spiritual moment to know that. I don’t care. I care about Christ. I don’t want the pissing contest. If you pay attention, that is what kills. I’d rather just do my best to be a decent, upright person who loves God and knows Christ. The rest of it can keep fighting within itself and hopefully, shut the hell up.
In Revelation, it says that there are 7 different churches. Each corresponds to a different part of the ancient world that has contemporary tie-ins to how one is supposed to live his or her life and the rewards and consequences for doing so well or poorly. It spells it out. Now, I may not be a biblical scholar, and I may not be trying to reduce Jesus into incense, but I know that if God says something is true, my best bet is to take him on his word and do my best, asking for his help as I go. Why is that so stupidly complicated now? It wasn’t so complicated then. We talk about the Gospel like it’s a living joke if our actions say otherwise. I probably sound like a raving crazy to most people reading this, and they are going to be just as pissed as they would be with the other side of the spoon no matter what I do. I believe these things. I believe that Christ is within us all. I believe he is all around us, in things we take for granted and can’t fully comprehend. I believe his truth is sound, and he designed the Bible in such a way that it would be made known to those who seek it and made into the world for those who do not. I believe the Bible is the most human translation we could possibly get of an infinite God. And the rest of it? Man, it depends. I’d rather ask the Holy Spirit and walk with God as I go.
I simply don’t get it. If I talk about my faith but all of it, I am the part of the church that people somehow hate because they project their bigotry and imperfection onto whatever I say. Most of what I say is very simple, and it comes from spending time with God. If people want to sling arrows, y’all go ahead and cast those rocks, I can’t stop you. They couldn’t stop you then. Not even Christ could stop you, that’s why we have this handy dandy crucifix symbol we wear on our chests. How freaking complicated should it have to be? Jesus. That is all you need to know.