Exactly. This video captures my passion and expresses my life.
Jesus is not about “us” ministering to “them”, or “us” creating cocoons of shared sensibilities as though we are “Beyond” everyone else.
God help us – institutional and organic churches alike.
Hear me on this: God may not call all of us individually to this or to that, but He does call all His people to a big “us” – also known as His Church, the multifaceted Body of Christ.
And in His Church there is no “them” when it comes to His life being expressed in us, among us and through us.
What “us” may look like often is appropriately expressed by different people in different ways, but it never involves marginalizing those who are different than me or at different stages along the path of grace.
I may have an ability or perspective that you lack. But I have yet to meet anyone – and I mean anyone – who does not likewise have abilities and perspectives that exceed me in other areas. Likewise, no church, fellowship or movement will be healthy if it pulls into itself or thinks itself beyond everyone else.
This is true also with our different sub-cultures, theological “tribes”, and the often unexamined presumptions and sensibilities of our own community of like-minded friends.
To be a healthy Body of Christ, we need each other – individually and collectively.
To my institutional church brethren, can I blow your institutional mind? I understand sin, and I am not squeamish about dealing with real crap in people’s lives. But I have been blessed, and learned much, from brothers and sisters who are struggling with addictions, gender identity, incarceration, poverty, homelessness and abuse. They are on the path of grace, even though we each may have different struggles. But together, we find grace as we submit one to another and esteem each other in our differences.
They are not “them” or “other”. They are my brothers and sisters whom I embrace, rather than relate to through arm’s length programs and “ministries”. As we walk together, they teach and challenge and impact me just as much as I them.
Now to my “organic” church brethren, here’s something that will really blow your “organic” mind: I equally affirm those who express Jesus by walking the halls of Congress, organizing their precincts and seeking the blessings of God’s propositional truth for their nation. Or who are analytical and care about doctrine. Or even, God forbid, are liberal or conservative (whether politically, culturally or theologically).
We can disagree, and even debate our differences, so long as you are seeking (like me) – even if imperfectly (like me) – to faithfully reflect Christ in us, among us and through us. What becomes a show stopper is when you insist that God expects me to look or act or think just like you – whether you are middle-class suburban, ‘hood, street, generation x, generation y, postmodern, or whatever.
The real Body of Christ is only “us” – you and me. We are to be co-participants in the life of Christ in us, among us and through us. We are to submit our lives one to another – as diverse and individual parts of the inclusive, wonderful, multifaceted Body of Christ.
Frankly, on this score, both the institutional and the organic community have lots to repent of – one for typically treating folks as “them” and “objects” of charity and compassion, and the other for claiming they are “Beyond” those who don’t reflect their often insular sensibilities.
Can we repent of our arrogance, embrace the “other” and become “us”? That doesn’t mean we become like each other, but we do learn to play our different instruments in a beautiful symphony of shared lives.
Multicultural, multi-generational, multiracial…
Many tribes, many voices…
But all united in Christ as we learn to embrace our common humanity, affirm our diverse experiences, and respect our God-given multifaceted gifts and callings.
If I am sometimes harsh, it is against the cookie-cutter voices within the Body of Christ who act and write as though it is all about “them” and their institutions on the one hand, or their “tribe” and sensibilities on the other hand.
I don’t want to relate to you institutionally through programs and ministries, but neither am I “Beyond” you. Nor are you an object of charity or compassion. You are my brother and sister, and I need you just as much as you need me – differences and all.
So please, let’s stop this nonsense of marginalizing those who are “other”.
Because either way, both within the institutional and the organic communities, it is we who become marginalized when we marginalize “them“.