Thursday, September 8, 2022

Church Folk

Why is it that we so easily read the stories of God as a people of Egypt or as mere historical observers? 

Quite simply, it is because we have lost our identity as a people of God. 

It's complicated how we got here, and it's even complicated to try to explain where we are. We are a people who are, on the one hand, fighting a sense of Christian nationalism right now that claims that America is God's political entity and that there is some kind of special blessing on her, and at the same time, we do not believe that we are a beloved people of God. 

....maybe we should get into that a little deeper at some point. 

The point is, we have become identified with our things and our places more than our God, and that is what is creating so much of the challenge for us. 

This happens in a lot of quiet little ways. For example, there are a number of persons in our world who would have once called themselves Christians, but now, when you ask about their faith, they will just tell you that they go to church. Are you a Christian? "Well, I go to church." 

The culture seems to have forced us into this a little bit (and I use the word "force" quite liberally, as it is really a retreat for us from the bold proclamation of faith that we ought to have). It's done this by putting a whole lot of baggage with the term "Christian" and spending so much of its time attacking Christians for being fallen human beings instead of Christlike figures, and so there has become this sort of stigma with identifying yourself as a Christian - you don't want to seem like you're the thing the world hates, especially if you are not particularly like all the things that the world hates about hypocrites. So in an effort to differentiate ourselves from those "Christians" the world is railing against, many of us seem to have simply decided that we will refer to ourselves as "churchgoers." 

I'm not talking here about the uncommitted, by the way. I'm not talking about those still on the fence or those still seeking, who also call themselves churchgoers because they haven't really made a commitment to the faith yet. I'm talking about those who are, in their hearts, lovers of Jesus but who can't figure out exactly how they want to declare that any more. 

So we call ourselves churchgoers, trying to escape the baggage that comes with being "Christians." And once we become simply churchgoers, we have lost the name of Christ altogether as a banner over our lives. There is no "Christ" in "churchgoer," though there is in "Christian." 

Then, we tend to move from being churchgoers to members of a particular church. Now, we've lost any attempt at trying to clarify what our faith means and have just skipped right to affiliations. Are you a Christian? Well, I'm a member of X Church. Now, we're even further from associating ourselves with Christ, and with God. Our churches have become social groups, and we are identified by logos and buildings and maybe programs, but not God. 

Quickly, then, we become a people who don't recognize even ourselves as a people of God. We took one step away by no longer calling ourselves Christians, then another step by calling ourselves members of a social organization. At some point, many have even decided they are "spiritual, but not religious" but even these do not talk about the Holy Spirit being the basis of that spirituality. 

We have developed, then, a faith in which there need be no mention at all of God. And when we have a faith like that, it's not hard to see why we don't identify ourselves with the people of God when we read His stories; we don't see ourselves even now as a people of God. 

We're just church folk.  

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