Six months into this pandemic, I continue to wonder and reflect upon what the Church may look like in our nation when we get beyond this enormous crisis. Certainly, there will be new safety protocols and norms for our worship. However, where I find myself most troubled and concerned is with the cynicism and valid criticism that has grown in this time where we have witnessed a significant portion of the Christian Church in America embracing what can only be called the antithesis of the Gospel teachings of Jesus.
When we strive to live with and in the Gospels and teachings of Jesus, there are some fundamental truths and poignant encounters that one simply cannot miss, unless one willingly does so. I believe that the core of these truths are found in Jesus’teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; Blessed are those who mourn; Blessed are the meek; Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; Blessed are the merciful; Blessed are the pure in heart; Blessed are the peacemakers; Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake; Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account…” (Matthew 5)
Certainly, there are many Christians within the Church that are doing their very best to live out these beatitudes. And yet, there may be just as many who claim the Christian faith, go to church, and yet that hardly translates into affecting their very being or national/worldview. The greatest commandment of Jesus is to fully love God and to love one’s neighbor as oneself.
If we are not concerned for the plight of the poor or middle class struggling to make ends meet…If we are not compassionate toward the 175,000 lives lost to Covid and their grieving families…If we are not willing to wear a mask and socially distance to protect our neighbors…If we are accepting of lies, corruption, and unfaithfulness because it suits our agenda…If we are okay with children separated from their parents and placed in cages at the border; and, If we are not willing to confront racism and social injustice believing that until Black Lives Matter, all lives cannot matter…how do we claim the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I recently said to my wife that: “If I was unchurched and considering joining a church, what I see today in American Christianity would not be very helpful.” And, if you see any of this as less than that to which the Gospel and Jesus calls, it’s time to reread Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…