I was sitting in my living room, wondering and listening to the version of Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time sung by Boyce Avenue. Then, this thought came to me:-
“What a world we live in! It's a world full of hate, envy and hostility.”
You will find this raging animus both inside and outside of religion. In fact, the irony is that we are supposed to be set apart from the world. Yet, the distinction has always been blurred, always.
If you drop an alien from outer space into the two worlds (that is, the secular or the religious), the alien would be deeply confounded when asked, "Isn't it obvious? Can’t you tell the difference?" The problem is, you can't - not always.
What is even sadder is that at times, the secular world appears to abide more faithfully with the commandment to love our neighbors than the religious world, where disappointments abound.
In my living room, I wonder: Have we conveniently forgotten the two greatest commandments Jesus gave to his disciples – that is, love God and our neighbors with all our heart, soul and mind? Isn't that the summation and consummation of love and everything else is merely footnotes, commentaries, annotations and even discursions?
Have we then been chasing the form of religion and not the substance, that is, pursuing Calvary's wooden cross and not the person hung there?
Dietrich Bonheoffer once said: "Those who live their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest, and sacrificial."
Are we then the victims of Christian ideals gone awry? Are we zombies for perfection who have forgotten to put on warm human flesh on the cold dry bones of religiosity? What has really changed then after our conversion - everything else except ourselves?
In the book "A Fellowship of Differents”, Professor Scott McKnight challenges us to meditate on these questions that he poses:-
"If the church is a mixed salad or fellowship of differents, then...
We should see different genders at church. Do we?
We should see different socioeconomic groups at church. Do we?
We should see different races at church. Do we?
We should see different cultures at church. Do we?
We should see different music styles at church. Do we?
We should see different artistic styles at church. Do we?
We should see different moral histories at church. Do we?
We should see different forms of communication at church. Do we?
We should see different ages involved at church. Do we?
We should see different marital statuses at church. Do we?
Even more, if the church is a mixed salad in a bowl...
We should understand the Christian life as a fellowship. Do we?
We should understand it as a social revolution. Do we?
We should understand it as a life together. Do we?
We should understand it as transcending difference. Do we?
We should understand it as honoring difference. Do we?
We should understand it as enjoying difference. Do we?
We should understand it as love, justice, and reconciliation. Do we?”
Benny Hinn once recounted that his own 11-year-old daughter had a difficult time figuring him out. In an interview, he said, "One day she asked me a question that absolutely blew me away - from my own child! "Daddy, who are you? That man up there (onstage), I don't know." He added, "If my own child is asking that, surely the whole world is asking that."
…I guess the whole world is also asking the same about us. Who are we?
Here is my own list of questions in McKnight's style for our pondering as I close...
…when we preach love in church and demonstrate hate at home. Who are we?
When we give to the church and take from the weak? Who are we?
When we insist that our interpretation of scripture is right and everything else is heresy. Who are we?
When we pray with both hands clasped and cast stones with both hands at gays, lesbians, prostitutes, homeless teens, ex-convicts and people with tattoos. Who are we?
When we sing praises in church and spread lies about our colleagues, bosses and competitors. Who are we?
When we proclaim to others that the truth shall set them free and remain imprisoned in our own fortress of lust, greed and envy. Who are we?
When we rejoice when a soul walks down the aisle and repulse at a soul who is more successful than us. Who are we?
When we boast about keeping all the commandments and commit murder, adultery and covetousness in our heart. Who are we?
When we are able to quote scriptures at a snap of our fingers and then use them to oppress others by instilling fear, guilt anxiety and shame. Who are we?
When we declare to the church that we are a new creation in Christ and return home or to office acting as if the old man has never been crucified with Christ. Who are we?
…and when we kneel down with open hands to receive our communion elements and distance ourselves from the communion of souls outside the church who are crying out to be understood, encouraged and loved. Who are we?
No, seriously...who are we?
Ps: Have a blessed Sunday service, anyway. Cheerz.