A Broken Girl in a Broken Church

(Sunday Spirituality Series)

It doesn’t matter at this point who the players in a good church scandal are.

I could name ten without looking. I could research and find a hundred in five minutes. I could spend a day and find a thousand more.

The truth is, scandals among God and humanity go all the way back to the earliest narrative, that old serpent in the once-perfect garden.

Christians have this weird idea that we shouldn’t ever admonish anything concerning the Capital C Church.

Take what the Southern Baptist Convention and other evangelicals have done to Beth Moore, for example. Because she has called out sin within the Church, she has been blacklisted from many of its most “faithful” authorities. She’s been ridiculed, shamed, belittled and abused for simply refusing to toe the line and allow an abuse of authority to continue.

However, I think it’s not only important–it’s commanded–that when we see an abuse of power within the Church, we call it out and burn it to the ground.

Didn’t Jesus do the very same thing?

Case in point:

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Matthew 23: 1-12, NIV

Church scandal is what initially led us to the Cross and what stirred us to the Reformation, a movement that, as usual, eventually returned us right where we were before.

It’s a cycle, really, if you think about it. This idea that a pendulum swings, but never lands in the middle. The Church grows, it becomes corrupt, it swings hard to reform, it eventually becomes corrupt again.

Could it be that the Church was never meant to be about perfectionism? About legalism and works?

It doesn’t matter now if you’re in a stadium, a coffee shop, a brick building with stained-glass windows, a cathedral.

Doesn’t matter if you’re Methodist, Baptist, Catholic or Presbyterian.

Doesn’t matter if you like the drums and your hands raised, or if you prefer a soft piano and a quiet hymn.

For the most part, church is all run pretty much the same no matter where you go.

Maybe it’s how we run them that’s the problem.

We’re running churches like businesses to be profited from rather than a way to collectively come together and worship the Creator of the Universe.

What’s worse is that most of us don’t even understand enough of Church history to know that the things we do in Church aren’t actually commands from Jesus at all.

Jesus left us with two rules:

Love God with all your heart (body- Jesus), soul (spirit-Holy Spirit), and mind (logic- the I AM).

Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (What you want for humanity should line up with the same peace and goodness you want for yourself!)

The rest of what we do, think and say as Christians has everything to do with tradition. And we all know that tradition can become as corrupt as the men who practice it.

Today, the Church appears to be just as rotten as it was in the days of the Middle Ages. We have traded in prayer for politics, peace for platform, and good practices and use of historical scripture for horrible perversions of a book that is now used as a weapon instead of a soothing balm.

It’s high past time we call out the authority of the Church.

While we should never expect our leaders to be perfect (gasp–did you know Paul wasn’t perfect?!), we should feel safe and free to knock them off the pedestals they shouldn’t be standing on in the first place.

The only entity in the Bible worth worshiping is THE Entity. The I AM, who in the New Testament (if you’re a believer) shows up wrapped in flesh as Jesus Christ.

So, my Christian friends–all my friends–let’s not be afraid to call out our leaders.

To be clear, let’s not nitpick. We are all sinners.

Humans are going to miss the mark. But when they use those missed marks to abuse their power, then hide under the cloak of being “God’s Chosen Ones,” they should be burned to the ground.

It is not okay to abuse the authority that God has given you so that you can hurt others for your own pleasure.

Not at all.

Many believers in the Church today are frightened of change.

They believe that to question one practice in the Church is to throw it all out.

To call the Bible possibly not as literal as we’ve always thought is to denounce a literal God.

To believe that maybe it’s time we start allowing all people to worship whatever they believe freely is to somehow dishonor the God who gave free will.

To think that by calling out a wicked abuse of power is to destroy the whole church.

I want to remind these believers that the Romans were so afraid of Jesus they hung him on a cross.

The white evangelical Christians of the Southern plantations were scared to death to let human beings be free.

Their ancestors were terrified of the Civil Rights Movement. A movement still needed today.

Throughout history Christians have been notoriously afraid of any change that will force them off their pedestals of power.

This is never the way Christ intended it to be.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you…

Jesus

See you soon,

Toni

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