Christian Church / Christianity / Faith / Hypocrisy / Religion / Thoughts

Spiritual Suburbia

We don’t know our neighbors. They live too far away. Too far for us to be kind. Too far for us to really get a sense of who they are. All we notice is when they don’t mow their lawns. We notice when they have a party that doesn’t end before eleven. Rumors fly, but we don’t know the truth because we never really listen. We wave and smile, but hope they answer “how are you doing?” with only one word. We know of, but don’t know.

The American church is in spiritual suburbia. We’ve all got the opinions and the gossip and we can talk about everything that everyone else is doing wrong. We rail against but don’t stand up for. We are the Franken-Jesus that is mentioned by Rick Warren. We’ve amputated our hands and feet and every other part until all we’re left with is one big fat mouth. We don’t need to know any gay Christians to condemn them from afar. We don’t have to know any African Americans to know that we aren’t racist anymore. In fact, we don’t need to have a relationship with anyone anymore as long as they know where we stand on the “important issues.” The biggest lie evidenced by the church today is that relationships are extraneous to Christianity, and knowledge and beliefs are All. That lie turns Jesus inside out and makes Him and His relationships extraneous. And this, the church calls Christ-likeness: that we abandon the pursuit of knowing people, of meeting them where they are, and paste a bumper sticker on their face instead and walk away claiming that now they know. If I could tell the Christian world just one thing, it would this: the first relationship a person has with God is through us, what does that relationship look like to them?

I can’t stand this bullshit that we have to be right, instead of compassionate. I can’t stand this shit that says that homosexuality is the line in the sand that God won’t let us cross, as if it’s a super sin. I can’t stand that people think that the way Christ lived His life means nothing next to the words of His followers. I can’t take this anymore. I’m tired of people doing this in the name of a Man I call friend, one with whom I try to make my relationship precipitate all of my relationships. It makes me wonder if these people know of or know? Whether they hear or listen? Whether the people we claim to speak for or know are even the same?

Is this what we’ve become? An isolated group who refuses to have our views challenged by loving someone? Because that’s what will happen. Should you make that leap and make your Christianity about relationships your views will be challenged by how much you love them. And just as Christ rose up on our behalf to a God who knew of because of His love for people He now knew; you will rise up on behalf of those relationships to beg for those souls as well. If you don’t, if you sit back down and call them out and isolate them or push them away, I have to wonder if you know who I know. Because that’s what it’s about: knowing who I know, not what I know.

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7 thoughts on “Spiritual Suburbia

  1. I love how Jesus “called out” the temple folk, the temple institution, the temple culture – yet still rolled up to teach and preach and be there. If I look for an example from a friend who knows, that is it. If I look for my friend only in church then I don’t think I “get it” nor do I “get him”.

    There is a lot wrong with people who look at church as a spiritual wash’n’go once a week. Which means they are as worthy of understanding and love as those who just look at god as a birth’n’wedding’n’burial soul insurance policy. I might be wrong, and it matters not – because my friend didn’t turn anyone away – not even the temple folk who came to take him to his death.

    I love your writing and passion. I love your questions. I love how there doesn’t have to be just one – or any – answer. The asking causes the thinking. The thinking invites tolerance. And tolerance forges togetherness. And then maybe – just maybe – we “get it” and find his love for each other. Maybe.

    • I love it when people get it. And you get it! I don’t want to be an authority, I just need to ask questions. Sometimes I get so down because I feel like I have nothing in common with this community of people who I say I’m apart of. But it’s knowing that there are people out there who see Christ like I do and know Christ like I do, that keeps me from throwing in the towel.

      One of the things I have to work very hard to remember is your first point, that Christ called out the church folk and still showed up. My faith suffered so much from pretty much every church environment I have ever been a part of. In fact, I can tell you that my husband and I have not attended one church faithfully for nearly 4 years. We instead hop from disappointment to disagreement. The closest I ever came to church that felt like Christ was a Universalist church. And yet, Christ. What a relationship to survive the lies and hurts the church has caused in His name!
      I’m lucky to know Him, but I’m tired of trying to clear His name because of people who should know better. If it wasn’t for these relationships, I know I would deny Christianity, though not Christ. Without these relationships, I’d be a practicing Buddhist who believed that Christ was the son of God sent to save us from dukkha. To me, their beliefs on life and conducting oneself are far closer to what I know of Christ.

      Anyway, rant/commentary over!

      • I prefer not to divulge too much, you are now the exception to that preference. Three years ago I became a churchgoer. After five decades. Asked him for guidance as to which he preferred. Rolled up. Made myself known (so it was harder to slide out). Several Sundays later I found out I was in a different “brand name” than I thought he had pointed me to. By then all I could do was chuckle – and accept his map reading was better than mine. After some months I struggled. Nothing bad, nothing wrong, simply nothing firing my soul and relationship. He just nodded quietly when I bitched. So I stayed put. And stuff started to happen. Little stuff outwardly. Big stuff inside where it matters. Between him and me. This blog was one by-product. Attending church “religiously” every Sunday (yay for me!!! How many years have I waited for that line!!!) became less important. The connections and relationship more so. Church is part of my relationship, this community on WP a growing part, pub theology locally and across denominations another important area. Seven days a week. That is how my relationship has grown. With god, and with others with god. Simplified to love. God kind of love. Less needy than the usual kind. And the community I am part of – globally and locally – virtually and face-face? It is” living” my relationship. It is a living and loving relationship.

        Take something or nothing from these words. For me, church is a place I go when he and I wish. A small part of the relationship he seems to want of me. What he wants of you? You and he will figure it out. That’s why I kept coming back here. It is church for me. This community.

  2. It’s so nice to see other people who struggle with all this stuff like I do. You guys are better than me though. I went to church for the first time in years this Easter. I can’t sit there without getting angry and annoyed with every sermon topic. I’m in the south though. Are you all in the south too? Are northern churches less judgmental and easier to handle?

    • I feel much the same way. My degree in theology ruined it for me. lol. I’m in PA so just north of the Mason-Dixon. I find that in my tour-de-force of churches, denomination means more than location. I’m sure the denominations that would make me angry are more prevalent in the south though. Try a UCC. They’re pretty liberal.

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