The word of the Eternal came to me with a message for Israel’s leaders … Meanwhile you don’t take care of the sheep at all. You have not sought to nurse the weak. You have not gone out to tend to the sick. You have not bandaged the injured. You don’t bring back the strays or look for the lost. You have led them with neglect, ruled them with harshness, shepherded them with cruelty! They had no real shepherd, so they have scattered; the entire flock was prey for wild beasts. My sheep drifted aimlessly through all the mountains and up and down every hill. My flock was scattered all over the world, scattered like the stars in the night sky, and not a single shepherd went looking for them.” –Ezekiel 34:1, 3-6 (The Voice)
I’m in the middle of a month-long course called Walking Wounded. The on-line forum is designed to share stories of church and life experiences with others who have been deeply wounded by churches and Christians. Each week, we have exercises to complete to help us understand the traumas and (hopefully) help us process through them with the goal of healing. We have journeyed through all the stages of grief. This week dealt with anger. So, this post exposes some of the things that make me angry–because it’s healthy to express anger when things are unjust.
I’ve never really legitimized anger in my life. Judging by the class and interactions with people throughout my life, I don’t think I’m alone. We deal better with denial, fear, sadness than we do with anger. I need another week to process through some of the things I began to learn this week; but for this post, I want to expose some of the inconsistencies I see in the churches that I’ve been a part of, and validate that we should be angry over them.
My last post encouraged women and men to not accept the status quo of power. I get a little irritated when I hear women accept the power-system and not realize just how much power we wield. If we choose not to insist on being treated with respect and honor, we have no one to blame. Because we have the majority numbers in churches and could actually change things, if we want to stop complaining.
Part of my angst over the male/female power struggle is that there are true minority groups in churches that do not have the numbers to command much power. A pastor once said to me that he didn’t understand why I was so passionate about a particular issue in the church because others didn’t get so emotional about it. Why should I, who was not affected by the policy, get so worked up about something that the majority didn’t feel was that important? Frankly, people who see the injustices and don’t get passionate about them should concern us. Lack of empathy from the people who have a trump card concerns me deeply. If we don’t stand up for those who cannot change the system, what does that say about us?
That we are entitled, spoiled hypocrites who put the ‘anti’ in ‘anti-Christ.’
Yeah, I know, ‘Them’s fightin’ words…’
Well, then, since I’m on a roll, let me give you a few more strong words. But notice that I include myself in all these statements. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone from a self-righteous stance. It’s a ‘we’ problem:
- Shame on us, church, for pandering to white/Western/consumerism.
- Shame on us, church, for growing fat off the poverty of others.
- Shame on us, church, for letting others drift away instead of running after them and showing them how valuable they are to God.
- Shame on us, church, for closing the doors on some because they make us uncomfortable, and we don’t want God to look like them.
- Shame on us, church, for so piously giving a token amount of money so that we don’t have to actually see or touch someone in desperate need.
- Shame on us, church, for elevating theology over people and relationships, and for using the Bible as an excuse for our prejudices.
- Shame on us, church, for protecting a system and a building and salaries over the people our system, buildings, and salaries have destroyed.
- Shame on us, church, for not acting like the Body of Christ.
I know it’s harsh. I also know it’s true. And I know it doesn’t have to be this way. We really can do better. But we have to look at the problems in all their ugliness. We have to admit the ugliness without caveat that ‘But, there are so many good things we’re doing too.’ The good things cannot whitewash the ugly beliefs and systems we keep perpetuating.
We have to admit our guilt … dare I say it? … Our sin … against God and those created in God’s image. In humility, we have to ask forgiveness from those we’ve offended and repent–make a hard 90° turn. We have to admit that we don’t have to look to the future for THE Anti-Christ. We are the anti-Christ. Complete with an agenda for a one-world government and belief system.
But more on that in a few weeks…
I welcome comments. Please keep them respectful and constructive.