Partisanship

The political conventions have begun.  The speakers complain that ‘those others’ won’t reach across the aisle and work together.  At the same time they begin to attack the other’s views.  Next week it will be the same song; second verse.   There will be no love lost in the coming election cycle.

I am struck with how much of a politicized culture we are immersed in.  In the faith community we speak of covenant relationships; forbearing one another.  Yet , some meanest fights I’ve ever witnessed have taken place in churches. {Granted they may not be the most brutal, but it seems like church fights go to a place of intentionally leaving deep emotional wounds.  As a pastor I recall trying to reach out to folks who were ‘un-churched’ but found that many of those we were reaching had been ‘de-churched.’  In my messages when I brought up the area of being hurt by a church it was as if a bolt of electricity shot through the room!  There was almost a physical change in about 60% of the people.  

Last week a pastor friend was trying to convince me that the intrusion of a “just business’ mindset into the church was an evil thing.  He said, “In business relationships are based on one person’s usefulness to another person and their agenda.  A ‘just-business’ mindset will drop a decades-long relationship with no contact over a price differential of a few cents.”  If we are willing to attack or turn out those who are no longer of use to us or do not support our position in the church, I think we are missing the Spirit of Christ.

My wife shared a story with me of a local church who was baptizing and receiving into membership a granddaughter of the church. The church itself is dying and mostly older people run it.  The problem was that this young granddaughter who had just come (come back?) to faith didn’t look like the rest of that aging congregation.  She had spiked hair, lots of tattoos and was pierced in several places.  But she was confessing faith in Jesus Christ.

The pastor published in the bulletin something he called, “A Radical Welcome!”  It was adapted/copied from Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community.  It read:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail, or could afford to lose a few pounds.

We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli (please join the choir!) or can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you are “just browsing”, just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, more Baptist than Billy or don’t identify as Christian at all.

We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion”, we’ve been there too.

If you blew all your offering money at the sweepstakes, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

We welcome those who are inked, pierced, or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost this morning and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers, doubters, bleeding hearts…and you!

That’s a warm welcome!  It also reminds us that it doesn’t matter whether we are useful to one another.  It also doesn’t matter if we share similar opinions.  It doesn’t matter if we look alike or if we disagree on how things should be done.  What matters is that we realize that God loves each of us so much that He willing sacrificed His Only Son—for us!  I want my life to be about building communities like that.

3 responses to “Partisanship

  1. I work with kids in the Christian Goth arena. Kids who dress in black, wear black lipstick, piercing, etc. These are not the “cookie cutter Christian” mindset or mentality. We are broken.

    Can a Christian be Gothic? Of course. One of my favourite websites from the 1990’s still endures: http://www.outcastpress.org

    Wayno

    • Wayno,

      My daughter had two close friends in high school who were Goth. They were not christian. I sometimes had the feeling that their love for the dark may have come from some of the life experiences they had endured, but I need to be careful that I am not putting on them my understanding of what led to their choices. If I assume, I usually get it wrong. For me, trusting God to work in their life even if their choices are not the ones I would make is hard. However, I am reminded that God works at His pace in His ways. He doesn’t need my advice. What I need is His love working in me toward those who are different than me. I may apprear as strange to them as they might to me! ;-)

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