23 June 2007

Why it's okay to call Christians whores, but not everyone else.

This is in response to "Fred's" comment in the previous post. My response comment was getting to long...

It is absolutely true that we should be sensitive to other members of the body of Christ. We (and I'm one of the worst) do a great job of shooting our own wounded and fighting amongst ourselves rather than fighting for a thing truly worthwhile like social justice and the reduction of poverty. If we could work together, how much more could the world change!?

However, there's another side of the coin here, and although we should always be respectful and loving, there is time for confronting. Peter says that the church will be judged first. Therefore we must 'judge' ourselves. There are two reasons for this:

One, is that we are 'in the light'. We have the greatest revelation given to us in the person of Jesus. And to whom much is given, much is required. I don't expect the self driven agnostic to give income to help the poor, but I expect the middle class surbanite with the Jesus fish on the family mini-van to not only give to the poor but to spend time with them (or whoever God lays on their hearts). The practical end result of this is that I may show mercy and love to the agnostic, while giving correction in love to the surbanite who claims to follow Christ.

We have a great example of this in the person of Jesus. He was accused of being a drunk and glutton and he was condemned for being friends and partying with sinners and rebels (tax collectors). Yet Jesus spent time with them, associated with them, laughed with them, loved them, and in that context, taught them and showed them God. At the same time, he rebuked the religious leaders, called them a brood of vipers, and proclaimed them white-washed tombs (insults of the worst kind in the day).
And yet, he still loved them, and for those who responded to Him, we dwelt with them and ate at their houses as well.

Revelation is very clear that Jesus not only encouraged the church, but at times had harsh words. We too, in love, can have harsh words. One can argue that God's judgement of Israel doesn't apply to the church because that was the Old Testament. I would argue that although we are under a new covenant, the same principle applies and you can read it in the Gospels, and throughout the New Testament (Annanias and Saphira for example).

The second reason flows from the first. We have within us the Holy Spirit, a supernatural phenomenon that should draw those in darkness into the light. We are Jesus on the earth, and people are looking for him. And yet in many cases, they see no difference. What they see, is a church spending millions on a new buildings and special effects for the stage. They see a Jesus fish on a Mercedes driving by a homeless person without stopping to give. They see a political giant fighting for rights in schools and denying others the rights that they desire. They see shallow, two faced hypocrites, who proclaim that rated R movies and cussing is bad, while millions die from AIDS on the other side of the world.

Now one can argue that I'm using a Strawman here, but I'm not saying that this is how all Christians act, I'm saying that this is how Christians are perceived because a significant number do indeed act that way. As a result we must heeds Paul's words as an entire body; that we should hold ourselves above reproach and act in a manner worthy of Christ.

And when we don't, we need to say so. We need to say that something is wrong. I believe that as we live honestly with ourselves, and we love those in darkness, while at the same time calling our own lives and the lives of other Christians into accountability we can see Jesus touch the dark places of our world.

People have seen us put on the perfect face long enough. But the whore still shows. Let us expose the whore, wipe our tears on Jesus feet, and allow Him to raise us up and call us His bride. The pharisees may wonder why Jesus is allowing a whore in the house, but world will then see Jesus as the lover of our souls, and us, as people who simply need a relationship with our creator, without all the whorish make-up.

We all desire something real. The world has had enough of "Jesus is my boyfriend, bobble-head doll, fake it till you make it Christianity." Let's get back to the raw, messy, Jesus. The one who drank with tax collectors, and pulled out the whip in the temple.


paul said...

I agree with what you say David - there is a prophetic voice the church needs to hear - and i think we often hear it best when it comes from outside, women's lib/feminism, civil rights, eco-movement etc did have churches/christians involved but for the main stream they were a prophetic voice.

When Bono gets on the stage and talks about humanity it is a prophetic voice for everyone - church as well...

The hard part of us taking on the whip is that we need to incredibly honest about our own failings as well as what we are doing - there is no point castigating someone else for x when we're guilty of y - personally i've given up and focusing more on close to home, me, my fam, my christian community, what are we doing/not doing/should start doing/stop doing etc...

guess i'd just rather not be a pimp or a whore :)

Makeesha said...

I can say personally that David and I have had the painful task of examining our own behavior, words, choices, etc as Christians for the past however many years - for me, over 25 - i.e. most of my life. The things we speak about, the things we "judge" are things that have been judged in us by the Spirit and often spoken harshly by others.

We're not speaking from a high place of self righteousness or lack of experience. We're speaking as ones who have "been there" and ones who are still "not there".

Makeesha said...

oh, and I actually don't have a whip, but I think Jesus was pretty rad for using one.

David said...

I like what I read once as the last rule of discussion...
"Remember, you could be wrong."

So say we all.
Good insight Paul. I love your bridgebuilding perspective and your comment on the post below this one was very helpful.

And to all of you who may be wondering; I am not vindictive, laughing at the churches short comings, running off to start a revolution thinking I have all the answers and church can just F--- herself.

I weep for her often. And as I do, many times, I am weeping for myself, because I am as guilty as any prostitute. I'm just thankful that Jesus loves prostitutes and desires to hang with them.

There's an old Violet Burning song where the lyrics go, "If I could be anyone at all, let me be the whore at your feet."

So when Derek Webb and others proclaim the whorring of the church, I don't feel like I have to defend her, I feel like I can identify with her.

My prayer then, is that we don't stay there.

Fred said...

Perhaps what I object to is an "attitude" and not the fact that Christians should be held to a higher standard.

I believe Christians are called to the highest standard by the Spirit of God, not the Law. And thus different peoples lives are going to look different.

What I find interesting about the Law is that we have so many Lawyers...

"Well did he really say???"

"Well, I may have said F--- but you didn't feed the homeless on Saturday like I did"

"You pharasees and brood of vipers. You made laws that 'may prevent' fetal genocide, but I gave this single mother $200 so her kids could eat."

Luke 11:46 says Jesus replied, "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."

I feel like too much whore calling, and you get not only a group of agnostics with heavy burdens but also a group of beleagered Christians who, no matter who they give to, or how much they serve in their "million dollar" church building, will have it called not enough by those who fancy themselves experts in the "Law of the Spirit."

What I'm getting at, is that it is all good for building the kingdom. We need laws that prevent destruction. We need mega-churches that can offer thousands of dollars and hundreds of volunteers to repair neighborhood homes. We need people to rate moves R so that I can avoid them if they cause me to stumble. We need people to feed the homeless. We need people in Africa fighting AIDS. We need people with money to send them there. We need people to raise awareness for all of these good things.

What I am wary of is that we need to keep naval gazing and finger pointing the church. The reason being, we're shooting our wounded and we're shooting our medics.

Well there is my own little strawman beaten down.

When I hear the church called a whore, my response is "that is what I was, not what I am and that is not the church, He has called her His bride (not because she picked herself up, but because He picked her up)"

I admire what revolution is doing. I think it is important. I also think crossroads work is important. I also think all churches work, whether it's in the family, the law, the mission field, or the community is important. And I think you are important. :)

David said...

Keep in mind that calling the church a whore, or the pharisees is a bit of a hyperbole statement. That doesn't mean all church goers are whores and all pharisees were vipers.

I do have my own personal opinions about modern church structure, but I do agree that even mega churches do good. And yes, even small, emergent post-modern churches can 'do bad'.

Which is why we are all brides, but we also were at one point all whores and we still act that way on more than a number of occasions. In fact, I've lost count. ;-)

I again go back to the fact that Jesus had harsh words for those that held religious authority, thought they had all the answers, or at least pretended they did.
This also has happened too many times to count in churchianity.

And for those who had the questions - well - he let them wash his feet with their tears.

So in the broad hyperbolic sense, I have no problem calling with someone calling the church a whore (have we not lost our first love?) wilst at the same time wooing the _________(fill in the blank here) with the love of God.


Anonymous said...

So Fred we need mega churches to make dollars selling coffee and the hip book of the week as the local bookstores (christian and not fail to sell books that are "approved" by the church) And we need the MPAA to accept money from studios to tell you what won't make you stumble rather than taking personal responcibility and doing the homework of what the content in the movie is? Tell me why is the LOTR trilogy and the Pirates of The Caribian movies have some of the most suggestive and violent content, but hey that's cool because they paid for a PG-13 rating. So Churches and reglatory agencyes are the ones to make my moral choices. I would have never guessed the Basic Instinct Two was full of explotation without the MPAA.

Makeesha said...

I'm not even sure where to start with all of that Fred - we're just on such different planes of existence.

...so God bless you where you are - do well there! I mean that sincerely. and I'll try to do well where I am. But don't get too concerned if I have something negative to say about where you because I don't get too concerned about the negative you have to say about where I am. if we can live in that place of tension well then we'll all be fine.

paul said...

thanks mak, good to know you're whip free :)

I think you articulate the point extremely well (as ever :)

I think you and david are a great blessing to the church and i appreciate your voice, compasionate frustration :) particularly as folks who are still not there yet.

Anonymous said...

Also interestingly enough, if we aren't called to be "navel-gazers" then what does one do with the books of the prophets? So was God just calling those with AIDS, in poverty, pagen belifs whores in the book of Hosea? Did Jesus go into the market place and turn over the stalls and money changers in the day markets of Jerusalem? Oh... I guess not. He called out those who used God's name for portraying economic and political motives as his father's. He demonstrated Grace to those that were not claiming to be part of his fold.
One of the greatest tricks the devil has played has been convincing Christians not to be self-critical, and not to confront our comfortable culture accomedating american practice of church. We have become numb, and passive, and then shoot the prophets calling the Church back to God because we like the profits and the heresy of "health and wealth" found in the prayer of jabez and the good thoughts= good results.