Monday, June 30, 2008

Speaking of Thr3es

I know I'm posting early. Sorry if I'm stepping on someone else's toes. I'm simply hoping to continue the conversation that the handsome Ian Kilgour posted on "Faithful Global Citizenship" (June 27, 2008) - has the Church got something more to say than we demand the right to smack our kids?
I believe the church has thr3e more things we can say.
Firstly, we can speak of our common confession that Jesus is Lord, that Solo Cristo has the defining claim on our loyalty. We consent to "Solo Cristo"; not to Caesar, not to the Empire of Rome, and not to whatever form the Empire takes today. Secondly, we can speak of our common gatherings, deliberate faith-filled moments/places that somehow intentionally counter and contribute to the healing of divisions/frictions, something that Paul calls in a Letter to the Corinthians “the ministry of reconciliation”. And thirdly, we can speak of our "common purse", our common practices of generosity, hospitality and justice, the embracing of difference, the inclusion of historically excluded or marginalized peoples, a purposeful inclusion that Rob Bell calls “the practice of a new humanity”.

Historically, when the church has lived from within and spoken of these three things our faith has brought something of heaven to earth and has added/contributed to the dignity, freedom, and security of different peoples throughout history. Think of:
- William Wilberforce.
- Catherine and William Booth.
- W. T. Stead.
- Dorothy Day.
- Rosa Parks.
- Martin Luther King.
- Oscar Romero.
- Mother Theresa.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu.
- Bono.
- Viv Grigg.
- Shane Claiborne...

And thankfully, the list could go on and on, couldn’t it?

Sadly, at the same time, when the church has stayed silent and forgotten to speak of these thr3e things, when Christians have forgotten our common Lordship, when we’ve forgotten to effect deliberate gatherings, faith-filled and good moments/places where we intentionally counter and heal divisions, when we’ve forgotten to embrace difference and the making of inclusive spaces, we’ve left a legacy of incredible damage on earth, something of hell on earth, a legacy of immense harm to humanity.

Think of:
- the Slave Trade, initially some Christian circles defended the sale of human slaves.
- the Christian Crusades.
- the Inquisition.
- the Colonization of Distant (“Heathen”) Peoples and Foreign Places.
- the Holocaust of Nazism.
- the Apartheid of South Africa.
- the Genocide of Rwanda.
- the Manifest Destiny of the America and its meddling in the Middle East.
- the political alliance of some churches with Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
- the increasing impact of our ecological foot-print and over-consumption in the “Christianized” West...

And sadly this list could go on and on too, couldn’t it?

Eyes on this from Lee Camp:
“The Rwandan genocide highlights a recurrent failure of much historic Christianity. The proclamation of the ‘gospel’ has often failed to emphasize a fundamental teaching of Jesus, and indeed, of orthodox Christian doctrine: ‘Jesus is Lord’ is a radical claim, one that is ultimately rooted in questions of allegiance, of ultimate authority, of the ultimate norm and standard for human life. Instead, Christianity has often sought to ally itself comfortably with allegiance to other authorities, be they political, economic, cultural or ethnic. Could it be that ‘Jesus is Lord’ has become one of the most widespread Christian lies? Have Christians claimed the Lordship of Jesus, but systematically set aside the call to obedience to this Lord? At least in Rwanda, with ‘Christian Hutus’ slaughtering ‘Christian Tutsis’ (and vice versa), ‘Christian’ apparently served as a brand name - a ‘spirituality’, or a ‘religion’ - but not a commitment to a common Lord.”
(Lee C. Camp, 2003, Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World)

I’m floored in front of this silent failure of our faith, you?

Today, if the church hopes to find our voice, if the Christian church hopes to add something of real value to the common good of our earth and not guiltily or sheepishly share in its common fate, then, with the everyday news of conflict, dehumanizing images of others, exclusion, fear, gross inequalities, injustices, hostility, nationalism, scarcity, suspicion, and terrorism, Christians everywhere have to now commit to a re-discovery of these thr3e historical expectations of our faith and let them re-determine/re-in-form/re-shape the feel/look/practice of our following of Jesus.

The commitment we have to make is simple, doable, (though the cost is high): we confess to a common Lord; we engage in creating common gatherings, deliberate moments/places that heal divisions/frictions within our glocal communities/neighborhoods, and when/where we can, we intentionally invest in practices/projects of generosity, hospitality and justice.

See the potential impact of this “common Christian voice” on issues of global development? Conflicts? Extreme poverty? Fair Trade? Gender Equality? Human Trafficking? Hunger? Environmental Sustainability? Terrorism? See some of the incredible costs involved (the comforts and excesses we esteem/prize might have to go)? See some of what it could mean to hang our own flesh on this Christian "voice"? See some of what is involved in "Faithful Global Citizenship"? See some of what is at stake - collectively, locally, internationally, personally?

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