the walking wounded

What does one do with the "walking wounded" of the faith? You know, those that church people tread like crap and then blame the wounded. Granted, this is nothing new, but it is something shameful the church needs to face. While many in the church strive to "copout" form blame, they honestly need to look at themselves and see what they have done. Think of it this way, back in the day John the Baptist was standing on a river and people were flocking to him. In Matthew's (3:5-7) recording of events he says that "People poured out of Jerusalem, Judea, and the Jordanian countryside to hear and see him in action. There at the Jordan River those who came to confess their sins were baptized into a changed life."

Picture that, your standing in the river next to this crazy guy named John and all these people are flooding to his side - for what? To get wet? To be "washed?" I don't think so. They were coming because they were wounded by life, by just living life, they were wounded by the religious leaders of the day - they were hurt and in pain. They heard of this guy who loved, was a bit crazy but would help them, so one who would take their pain, their hurts and help them build community. But with this grace, came pain because as the people gathered, so did the religious leaders - the people who caused much of the hurts the people had in their lives, and John let them come, but soon let them have it. He held back nothing and told them that they were the cause of this pain, they were the ones who were more centered on their jobs then about helping people know God. Over all, he was not very nice to these men, while he welcomed "crooks and whores" he turned on the religious leaders of his time for all they did. So, what are we to do? I keep hearing how the church is important for "healthy Christians" and yet I know of Christians who have been so wounded by the church, the idea of returning cause them to curl-up and die. I keep hearing how the church is not "prefect" and that it is filled with "imperfect" people in a "fallen" world and I wonder if any of those who claim this ever read the scripture.

If you keep looking in Matthew, he shares a bit more about what happened at the river, and how lives were change, and how people where made new people. When the religious leaders were giving Jesus a hard time about everything Jesus said and did; Jesus turned to them and said, "Yes, and I tell you that crooks and whores are going to precede you into God's kingdom. John came to you showing you the right road. You turned up your noses at him, but the crooks and whores believed him. Even when you saw their changed lives, you didn't care enough to change and believe him." Wow, talk about a smack in the face. But why would Jesus say that? Because, Jesus knew that only when a person is truly changed, truly made different is a community formed.

while most quote the "crooks and whores" line, they leave out the "changed lives" line. I have no problem with knowing the church is filled with sinners, but we need to remember that we are "changed sinner" not just sinners. It seems that they forget that as we walk in Christ, we are changed from the inside out. We are changed and made new people in Christ. I love the way Paul put in his letter to the Romans (12:1-2). Paul said, "So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life--your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life--and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you." Funny, Paul is telling us that if we allow the "world" to determine our faith we are not living a changed life. Our changed life is to be above the culture, or our "humanity." In another letter (Ephesians) Paul shares some deeper understanding when he said, "Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you."

I think it is too easy for people in the church to copout on the "fallen" world excuse for treating people poorly - the church, a community of faith, it to be a place where changed people, love, forgive, lift and do not judge - if a community of faith creates "walking wounded" one has to ask if that church is truly walking with Christ.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

John - This is something that I've been thinking about a lot lately. Thanks for your post. Great thoughts.

Peace to you,
Andrew C.