Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Church for Everyone?

On my best days, I say with conviction I believe the church is a place for everyone.

On my best days, I actually have hope such a church is possible.

On my best days, I believe folks from differing points of view can gather together to worship Jesus as Lord and Savior no matter what part of the economic, theological, or political spectrum one resides on.

On my best days, I believe folks can actually sit down and argue their various points of view, vehemently if necessary, and still walk away loving and caring for each other.

Those are my best days, but there are other days.  Days when I am not so sure.

My mentor once relayed to me the definition of the church which had been passed down to him: A Collection of Like Minded Sinners.

The idea behind that definition is the church is actually a place where like minded folks congregate.  In reality, diversity is a myth.  In reality, people from opposing philosophical and theological points of view cannot get along with one another.  In reality, people get together, agree upon which sins are allowable and which sins are not, and invite others who share their convictions to worship and congregate with them.

I hate reality.

As someone who considers himself a thinker (a stretch to those who may know me), I oftentimes find truth being spoken by both sides in a given issue.  Conversely, I often find fallacy in both sides as well.  I am aware enough of my own perspective to know that I too have portions of the truth and yet I know there is fallacy there.  However, oftentimes I am unaware of that fallacy until it is pointed out.

I would like to think I am open enough to hear that criticism.  I would like to think I am open enough to know when I am indeed wrong and when I need to correct my line of thinking and understanding.  However, I am not sure I am.  I like being right.  I like hanging around those who think I am right.  I don't like being uncomfortable.  So can I even exist in a church such as the one I describe earlier, a church where diversity actually happens?

I'm not sure.

But, I am willing to give it a shot.

I'm willing to work toward a congregation and a church that is truly diverse in perspective and point of view.

Unfortunately, I know I'm going to have to take some heat to get there.

It's already happening.  Not in a necessarily bad way, mind you.  But, it is there.

I know within my congregation, I've got the folks on the far left a little disenchanted with me.  I also know I have the folks on the far right disenchanted with me.  I'm not trying to get them ticked, but I don't believe in letting either extreme dictate the role of the church--even though they both may have some truth on their side.

Now, I grew up watching the Karate Kid, and I know Mr. Miyagi's famous quotation, "Walk on left side road. Safe.  Walk on right side road. Safe.  Walk in middle.  Get squished, just like grape."  I realize the truth of that statement in certain situations, but I do not believe that all things are either black or white.  I do not believe I have to choose between the theological left and the theological right.  I believe there is another path--a path which resides in  a different arena altogether; a path which upholds the truth espoused by both extremes, yet which does not swing to either end.

What is that path? 

I'm still working on it.  Sometimes I feel like I'm blazing a new one.  But I know, in reality, I am not.  I know it's been done.  It may take me a lifetime before I figure it out.

But by then, it will be too late.

By the time I figure it out and understand what it means to be a church for everyone, we might have a church for no one.  And that's just totally unacceptable.

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