Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Should We have a Voice?

One of the comforting things about blogging in an unknown and unexplored corner of the Internet is that I can actually finish a sentence, and even post without anyone demonizing me for that observation or opinion. This post is probably one of those that, were I important, would get me more angst-ridden and angry comments than I could keep up with.

Honestly, as anyone who knows me is aware, I am a pretty simple pastor, at a small church in, of all things, a strip mall! So, my observations and opinions do not come from the rarefied air of celebrity, or even from the (apparently coveted) title of 'mover & shaker' within the broader Christian community. I spend most of my time, as do most 'everyday' Pastors, trying to ensure that my people are cared for, fed with a steady and varied diet of the Scriptures, prayed for, and the usual odd assortment of things that are part and parcel of pastoring a small church. I rarely have the time or inclination to immerse myself in the controversies and arguments that (sadly) fuel much of the Internet.

However, with that all being said, I would like to make an observation regarding a trend I find not only disturbing, but taken up by many within the broader Christian community, as well as the secular world. This trend is that the church has no voice in the broader society: if a pastor DARE make a comment on anything within the secular world, he is demonized because he is not of the right gender/ethnicity/socioeconomic status. Christians, as well as the usual secular voices are quick to point out that 'the church' has no voice because it has (insert one's favorite sin/crime here) and therefore disqualified itself from making any comment on ANYTHING.

I would like to simply make two statements: first, yes, 'the church' has failed in many areas, we need only witness the recent podcasts and expose's eagerly posted by those who have 'deconstructed' their faith or have been damaged by the actions of said churches. Yep, happens -- and it SHOULD be dealt with biblically -- the big problem is that many of these issues are driven, NOT by churches (the vast majority) who are biblically stewarded, but by the secular celebrity culture that has infected the church. We, the people of God, should reject these models, NO leader is above being scrutinized for questionable behavior, no leader should grasp for, or obtain total control of the church -- a church that they often mistake as their own creation, rather than Jesus Christ's.

A church such as this HAS disqualified itself as a voice TO the culture -- instead it is just another voice AMIDST the culture. Alas, there is also the issue of those who assume to speak for the 'church', who who have conflated their politics and their faith -- their comments come out far less a voice in the wilderness, and instead simply an echo chamber of their secular affiliations.

SO: yes, there are issues with a church that has become nothing more than a shill for their own interests, be they political, denominational, racial et al.

Having said that, the church DOES have a voice in the broader culture, a culture which increasingly rejects God, and anything to do with Him. Making the claim that the church cannot speak into this culture because some within the church have made bad decisions, held to unbiblical principles, or as a whole illustrates that the church consists of fallen sinners, is nonsense. Name an organization or group of people who have perfectly reflected humanity at its best (whatever that means). All organizations, groups, peoples, nations, have fallen far short and all have done things which, (if we are consistent), would disqualify them from having a voice. So, yes the church has a voice; this does not exempt them from being held to THEIR OWN standards, the same ones they hold the world too, but standing up and proclaiming the Good News of the gospel, and the truth that ALL of us have fallen in sin and is in need of redemption needs to be heard.

The tragedy is that, so rarely, is the voice we bring to culture one of clarity and compassion; instead, far too often we are indistinguishable from the myriad voices out there. Our posts/comments are often ever so subtly (or not) racially based, politically based, or simply hateful. We present ourselves as hateful, proud, and superior to a world which actually needs us to be humble, caring, and honest about who we are.

If we want to have a REAL voice to the cutlure, maybe we should stop sounding so much like them, and more like the One who bought us with His precious blood?