THE TOXIC CHURCH (PART 5)

Today’s Prayer to Passage will be from the book ‘Why Nobody Learns Much of Anything at Church: And How to Fix It’ by Thom and Joani Schultz.

And today I pray, “Dear God, How do we fix it? How do we revive the Church on earth?”

Following my prayer, I held the closed book in my hands and opened it, my eyes darting directly to the following passage:

“USE VISUALS.
The marketing people said they’d never attempt to persuade a crowd without using their most powerful tool — visuals. They know that most people (more than 80 percent) are visual learners. In order to ensure that a message sticks, people need to see it.”

I love this Prayer to Passage practice. It is like opening a gift from God every time I apply it. Thank You, God, for Your continued Communication with us. Miracles abound!

And now, this is the final post of my interview with Reed, a 31-year-old who told his story about his reasons for no longer attending church:

REED, 31, MUSICIAN:

“…My hope for the future of the world as far as the Church is concerned comes out of a complaint. My complaint is that people are still using Scripture to manipulate people and to drive home an agenda, rather than letting it be what it is. I want more pastors to show up and show everybody that this is not how Scripture is supposed to be used; to get you re-elected and to separate people. It frustrates me when people do that.

I don’t understand the way Republicans have claimed Christianity, when the democratic mindset is much more congruent with Christian faith; socialist, in support of greater equality, in support of taking care of one another and making sure that everybody is accounted for. And it seems like many Republicans act as though life is all for one. Money is kept in the hands of the wealthiest people and doled out to those who are lucky enough to get a job from them. So, I don’t understand why they get to be Christians. Many Democrats are more liberal on their views of abortion. Is that why Republicans get to persecute Democrats?

Do something nice for somebody. Compliment people. Make somebody smile. You are not going to find it in yourself. Your life is out there. Ultimately, your life isn’t for you. Everybody else in the world should benefit from your being here.

Do I awaken with that attitude every morning? No. But it’s certainly there a lot of the time, otherwise I probably wouldn’t do some of the things that I do. My hope is that Christians would clean it up. But I don’t think they’re going to. There is just too much money involved, and too much truth at stake.

I had a great conversation with my dad last summer. We got fundamental. We got down to the subject of restoring your word. We talked about how forgiveness is essential, and how the world can’t live without forgiveness. We try and send people to hell by saying, ‘I will never forgive you for this.’ We deprive people of forgiveness.

We say that we forgive. ‘Oh, yeah, I’m a forgiving person.’ But we do not actually forgive. ‘Oh, that’s alright. Don’t worry about it.’ But we hang onto it.

We are taught about forgiveness in church. But we’re not taught how to forgive. And we don’t practice forgiveness. We know all about it. But we don’t experience forgiveness. We don’t experience giving forgiveness.

There are not many people who are good at forgiveness. It’s not something that comes easily, because the natural human tendency is to hold a vendetta. Everything about being human seems to contrast what the design is about as far as creating connection with one another. The world seems to want to punish and get revenge. The world seems to want to kill one another, and to kill in the name of what’s right. With that in mind, who is right? The truth and being right seem to go hand in hand.

Buffalo Springfield sang, ‘Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong.’ So if you’re right and everybody else is wrong, who is right? Are you right? When you get inside that kind of logic, it doesn’t give anybody a right to kill anybody because they don’t believe in the same thing. The world has politics and twisting of words. People are killing one another.

To me, wherever people are being killed, that’s my church, too. It’s the same church. And Christians are killing. In Ireland, Christians were killing Christians. How can two religions that are based in love and a loving God be killing one another? Stop and think for a second. For God so loved the world that he gave His only son so that people would kill people.

What we do matters. Killing somebody matters to somebody other than the supporters of the killing. Did the killer do the right thing? It matters to the parents of the person killed; a piece of their life is gone. The impact of what we do makes a significant change in the world. Does it contribute to something forwarding the life experience for everyone? Does it contract?

In the United States, we don’t seem to have a basic understanding of what contribution is, because everything in life is set up so that one gets what one wants. That’s what we tend to move towards. Even out of a desire for compassion, our culture pulls us to live the American Dream, to have the house and more stuff. And we get ourselves locked down.

It’s not all like that. But for the most part, we were in a recession because some of the people running the money in this country don’t have that figured out. Where is the idea of lending a helping hand? Or not needing wealth? Where is the idea of having enough? Having enough isn’t enough for them.

They probably don’t experience having plenty, having abundance, having their cup run over. We have been driven into the ground, and they are making us pay for it while they bail out themselves. It’s so backwards. I don’t think, as a whole, as a country, we have a concept of what it means to help each other out in order to forward the progress and make a positive impact on somebody else’s life. It’s so set up to be marketed to the individual. And I don’t think other countries are exempt from that.

I don’t pray. I don’t see the point. The last prayer that was noticeably answered was when the rain stopped at church camp. With a circle of sunshine coming into our lives, I was sure that it had to be real. Now the things I want in my life are simple. I’m not asking for a million dollars. Sometimes I ask for a good night’s sleep, and God can’t even help me with that.

It’s not a conscious thing. I won’t know that I got the benefit of it. Why can’t God help me with that? Is it that hard? Do I get nothing from God? I’m a little bitter.

This is bargaining with God, and I know I’m not supposed to do that. But when I graduated from college and was looking for a job, I put it in God’s hands, hoping that everything would work out. I put it in God’s hands ready to do the work, hoping things would work out. Things have not worked out. I’m in a good place now. My music is starting to come together, and I can see where I’m headed for the first time in my life.

But it’s not because of God; it’s because of the work I’m doing. Earthly, worldly treasures are the desires of many, but I want fulfillment and happiness. I want to express myself and to do what I was put here to do. There is no right way to do life. What is the point of going to church? Do we go in order to feel good for a little while and then go back to real life? The benefits that I am reaping these days are because of things that I have done myself.

I have held myself accountable and done the work. So what is life for? Do I still struggle because I don’t pray? Prayer hasn’t done a whole lot for me so far. Is life better with prayer? Whose better are we talking about?

I can call my life a failure or I can call it a blessing right now. I can go back and forth. I am fortunate to have a job that helps to sustain me, and to have my family, and to have a house, and to have friends. I do count my blessings. And then I could just as easily blame God for not allowing me to live the way that I want to live. ‘I haven’t done this, I haven’t done that. I haven’t, I haven’t, I haven’t.’

But one of the things that I’ve learned is that when you hear the same thing over and over again, from different people, there’s probably a reason for it. And you were resisting that communication. If people seem to repeatedly say, ‘You are talented,’ you need to accept that you are talented. And become that.

Present yourself to the world as talented. Don’t be ashamed of it. Naturally, the only place we look is every place where we are not. And that can create a downward spiral. What do we get out of beating ourselves up? Where is the spiritual connection in that?”

“The best theology would need no advocates; it would prove itself.”
—KARL BARTH

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s