There is the Waste

Posted: February 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

As of late I have been hearing more and more particular examples of how church conflicts and Christians behaving badly are causing people to flee such places. People pack up their wagons and move down road because they are disillusioned; they witness the worst of human nature in a place you would expect just the opposite.

In the past, under these kind of circumstances, people usually sought out another church, starting taking communion at a different address.  There is nothing new about that.  What is new, however, is what is now happening after that kind of exit.

For more and more Christians the flight away from the fighting faithful is the last exit from the institutional church, of whatever stripe. It’s the final throwing the hands in the air, waving goodbye and finding spiritual life, community and service far outside the Christian huddle. It’s the last exit – not from God – but from the church.

It breaks my heart for several reasons. I’ve seen what could be very, very good turned into something very, very bad. It sours and jades many who have been long-suffering, hoping after hope over extended periods of time. And then, as the greatest indignity, there are the people who finally re-entered church after a long absence – giving it one, last, hopeful shot – only to to witness the dark side. That is the last straw, and not just in the metaphorical sense. They are now gone forever.

So let’s be clear and not mince words: We’ve done this. When Jesus barked out that those whose souls are most at risk are the ones who cause others to stumble, he wasn’t blowing smoke. When we sully the spiritual experience of others as a result of our own pride, lust for power, selfishness or greed, a crack runs through the psyche from top to bottom. It’s emotionally and spiritually debilitating because we live with the truth of the harm we have inflicted. As they say, the unconscious has no garbage disposal; it  stays with us, regardless of whether we consciously recognize it or not.

The beginning place is confession of our culpability, something that requires huge doses of humility and honesty. But if we listen carefully enough to the voices of those who have left and are never, never coming back, it might begin to soften us.

  1. Barbara Kent says:

    Ah, Wise Tim, we both know the truth of this from personal experience!!!

  2. Hey Tim
    Nice words. There is nothing like being with brilliant people and enjoying tolerance for diversity. Last week my former Islamic Iranian wife sat with a Jew, a Tea Party Redneck, a fundamentalist Bible thumper, a Pagan Believer, an Athiest and me. It was a delightful evening of insights and ethical depth. Jesus would have enjoyed their honesty and open spirit. Most established churches would have tried to tar and feather them.

    Hope that you are fine.

    Ben B Boothe Sr
    High atop the Sangre De Chrisos Mtns

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