When the walls need to come a tumblin' down: Institutions of the Absurd
An ax needs swinging; an ax to be laid to the root of the Christian tree. Indeed, the right hand of God needs a jackhammer that could be no more useful than if it were laid to the cornerstone of every church building. The time has come for judgment, and that judgment must fall upon Christendom. I don't believe I am the first to say it, but I hope that I might be the first to preach this at volume eleven.For faith alone may save, but the evidence is clear: the institutionalized church in the United States has no faith, no faithfulness, and no taste for the burden of the cross.
If the American church is no longer faithful, what can be done?
America, you have heard Moses and the prophets, and you have heard John the Baptist. You have received Jesus, yet even so you have rejected the straight and narrow - even the lightest of yokes. You have not carried the pack even an extra inch. Take heed the warning of the Baptizer – repent, for your membership in the church of this age is meaningless. The church is in need of judgment, and from the rubble God will raise a faithful remnant, the likes of which will not be bound by walls, dogmas, or democratically constructed polity, but exhibit boundless grace, mercy, and the peace and sacrifice of Jesus.
Not only has wealth and power destroyed the church and erased any real measure of biblical ethics, but wealth and power have corrupted the American church in a manner that no less than invites judgment. The fact of judgment, however, will not reflect the lies that much of the church has preached about the apocalypse. The fact of judgment will inaugurate yet another new age in which we will not see the final days of creation, but we as a faithful people will finally witness the creator God set things right in spite of what Christendom has done.
God will finally act to judge an evil morality that condemns our children to a life of shame, instead of embracing the blessing of original sin (for only in brokenness can we extend grace and mercy, only in sin can we appreciate the love of God and one another). God will judge American Christendom for arguing about a culture that embraces violence as a solution to violence; and God will end the false morality that blames racism on the victims, poverty on the poor, and unwanted pregnancies on the woman who bears the child. God will finally act to bring an end to a Christendom that glorifies political power as God's will; the systematic alienation of the foreigner; the gunning down of people in the streets. God will judge those who fly confederate flags on their pickups, and raise American flags in their churches. These days are finally ending, these are the final days of Christendom.
God is a God of justice, but God's justice is not our justice. It is not social justice, but a justice where the strong relinquish their privilege, and the wealthy throw their security to the winds. A Church will no longer stand in the way of faithful gays and lesbians who long for covenant, nor will it fight for their right to kill enemies as members of the military. God's justice is a justice of peace and not rights. The immigrant is not welcomed into an economy of wealth, but God's justice invests in economies that value the sojourner and refugee and care for their needs at the expense of those who do not want. Racism is not eliminated by the welcoming of blacks into the exploiter class, it is erased by the emptying of privilege by white Christians so that only God is served, and not mammon.
But listen! God's judgment, God's justice – Shall not be feared, for as awesome as such justice must be, equally full of grace and mercy must is how it will be instituted, for if God is just, and God is love, the two cannot conflict. The ruins of Christendom will sit empty only to reopen their doors to house and feed all in need. The buildings will be full everyday, filled to the brim with those who have not and those who have, eating together, providing for one another, sacrificing in order to reflect God's saving grace. The buildings will finally be useful, not set aside for the worship of those who only enjoy the company of one another. Republican and Democrats will no longer worship separately, for Christians will no longer vie for political power, instead sacrificing such positions in order to humbly serve God's will. The church will finally return to the margins. The church will finally return to turning the world upside down, instead of buoying nationalism and world power.
God's judgment should not be feared, for we will be liberated from our need to sing the same hymns we always have; we will be liberated from arguments about gay marriage, abortion, and arming ourselves in church. We will be liberated from demanding our preachers are more constitutionally astute than biblical, or more understanding of our own foibles, our own affairs and divorces, and our own failure to spend time with the other – all the while preaching hatred about those who seem unlcean to us. There will no longer be anyone a Christian won't hold close in our arms when God's judgment finally comes. The final day of hatred in the church is at hand, the building may crumble, the altars spontaneously combust; every icon will implode, and every Bible will burst into flames, yet those words of God will not be consumed. The idolatry of those words will be overtaken by the Word of God, so that God's justice will finally speak clearly from each page each pointing to the grace and love of Jesus.
The church must be judged, and God's judgment will destroy our temples. Every stone will fall upon another, and once again the world will be turned upside down. Sure enough a “rapture” of sorts will occur, but while we are called up-up to meet Jesus in the air, we come back to earth, feet firmly on the ground, and going about the business of leading an exodus that liberates us from the bondage of brick and mortar and into the streets, emptying ourselves of privilege, wealth, and security to preach and embody the gospel of Jesus. For only Jesus will resurrect the church, and YWHW will dwell with us, securing justice for even the least of these, making use of the wealth that has been entrusted to us yet is rightfully God's.
It matters not if America is a Christian nation. If the church of Christ is to be faithful, it cannot be American first.