So, I just started reading a book today called “The Underground Church: Reclaiming the Subversive Way of Jesus” by Robin Meyers. I wrote out a passage from the prologue that really struck a chord with my soul, and added emphasis to the final paragraph, which resonated deeply with me. I am not posting this to prove a point or to communicate any personal faith decision that I have made- rather I am simply sharing a message that gave my soul a little bit of respite on a Sunday night.
To my way of thinking, if the church cannot return to its radical roots- driven by a truly subversive and anti-imperial message and mission again- then it deserves to die. It has nothing to offer the world except something to dull the pain, circle the wagons, or lie about the number of lifeboats. For millions the church is dead already- the victim of its own intellectual, spiritual, and moral dishonesty.
“God, we feel miserable.”Good[replies I AM].Can you stay with the feeling?
Like the determined friends of the paralytic who is brought to Jesus for healing, the church needs to do something now as drastic as tearing open a hole in our doctrinal roof. Or, given that people of faith are by definition metaphorical thinkers, imagine this:
Richard Dawkins has been given a spear and permission to thrust it into the side of the church and put us all out of our misery. He complies, believing the world would be better off without tax-exempt meeting places for imbeciles. He announces a research project that will create grace in a test tube. In no time, he publishes a paper that dispenses with evil by announcing the creation of a software patch that can be downloaded by day or night- triggered (ironically) by the search word “banality.” A committee at Oxford volunteers to give last rites to the church.
Then say about three days after the deed is done and the New York Timesannounces that the CHURCH IS DEAD, what’s left of us lunatics could meet and take a walk to Emmaus. We could discuss all the “things that have taken place in these days” that our “eyes were kept from recognizing.” After all, it doesn’t take a theologian to know that the world is full of lonely, frightened people. It doesn’t take a mystic to know that all of us are hungry and need bread. It doesn’t take a celebrity to remind us that fame and fortune are nothing compared to community. We need one another. Because let’s face it, the age of the self-made man, the rugged individual, the rolling stone, has given us the most unhappy, the most addicted, the most broken, and the most fearful society on earth.
Maybe that’s why everyone at least owes it to himself or herself to remember that before the gospel got turned into just another marketing strategy, it contained the two most powerful words ever to address the sickness of the age:fear not.
OK, so you don’t consider yourself a religious person, but that doesn’t mean you don’t wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what it’s all about. IT doesn’t mean you haven’t wondered how on earth any two people can stay married for a whole lifetime and be happy. What’s walking on water compared to this? It doesn’t mean that your soul hasn’t ached to know what true love is, hasn’t gone looking for it in the jungle of pretenders and hustlers. The object of life is to love and be loved.
What is missing is trust, and without trust the whole human enterprise collapses. Without trust there is no covenant, and without covenant there are no relationships. Without relationships there is no happiness.
Who could blame anyone these days for not trusting the church? Yet what we no longer trust is not the idea of a Beloved Community but the reality of a quarreling collection of petty, frightened people who have forgotten where they came from, where they are going, and to whom they belong. Most of all, we have forgotten that we signed up to be crazy, like Jesus was crazy.