I was listening for the voice of God this week, something I seldom do. But I was telling God about all the questions I had about the trinity versus subordinationism, and pelagianism versus arminianism, and God said, “I am not doctrine. I am a Person. Get to know Me.”
And that so reminds me of Jesus, who almost never described God in doctrinal terms, but told stories that illustrated what he knew about God. If all the catechisms in the world were erased and replaced with stories that illustrated what we have learned about God, then what would we have?
I was listening to the radio this week; Krista Tippett was interviewing a tattooed ex-Church of Christ woman, who had become a drug addict, then a Lutheran minister. She had an inner city ministry to a congregation of 35 young counter-culture youth, not accepted by the rest of society. After the article came out the congregation’s attendance doubled, except that it was people in Dockers and khakis who wanted to attend. The woman was upset. Her target audience was being overwhelmed by nice people.
The same thing happened to Jesus in His ministry. He hung out with tax-gatherers, sinners and prostitutes, but then the extremely holy Pharisees showed up. Jesus was furious: “Who told you to flee from the wrath to come?” He told parable after parable to make them choose: Either change your smug self-righteousness or go away. Most chose to go away.
The majority of religious attenders today are at church/mass/synagogue/mosque for family, cultural and comfort reasons. They believe the doctrines about Jesus, they like to worship, but being willing to look at the myriad ways we as Americans sin, individually, corporately, economically, socially and as a nation, is not why we attend church. And what church could survive if we were confronted by the way we trample this nation and the world? There would be a mass exodus from that church until only three or four people were left, the bills couldn’t be paid, the pastor would be out of a job, the building would be re-possessed. We as a nation of worshippers have spoken clearly: we will give money if we are not confronted where we worship. (Only confront us on this list of agreed upon items.)