Tuesday, April 08, 2014
I had a Skype call with a friend recently. I have not spoken with him in almost a decade. When I was a youth worker/missionary, I use to meet for prayer with this man who was an elder in the church. Weekly we would pray together. We always seemed to talk and pray about wanting to be more faithful to Jesus, to be more radical for Jesus, to be more...well more anything, as long as it was more. He is now a pastor of a church and told me all about it. He was encouraged by its growth because the church was busy and Sunday attendance was growing. I found myself while listening feeling annoyed and angry at his news. This bothered me and I reflected upon this for the next few days. Yes I recognise I am no longer in the same place as what he most likely remembers but nonetheless the penny however finally dropped as to why I felt like this when I read a chapter from Orthodox Heretic by Peter Rollins. Jesus never favoured Samaritans and tax collectors as a distinctive group but rather favoured these groups because they were on the margins of society, the then untouchables, the dregs of society. My friend the pastor is part of a church (I do know the church) that will frown upon people being gay for example, and who will not agree with gay marriage. For them in the expression of their faith they will reject people in the same way as people were rejected in the time of Jesus. Furthermore, they will emphasise the religious aspects of their expression which speak little of the kingdom here, for all. What I did want to hear was how the church was making an impact on the vast disenfranchised poor that is still so rife in South Africa. What I wanted to hear about was how this church was lavish in their grace and love, welcoming all regardless of colour, creed, gender or even sexual orientation. What i wanted to hear about was how busy they were facilitating soup kitchens, educational programs, rehabilitation and how in order to do these things, changing the cogs of society many were pursuing careers in politics, education and economics so as to inspire real change that impacted upon all in society. I was frustrated because it is not the kind of faith I believe in, not the kind of faith I practice, not the kind of faith that represents me at all.