I recently finished reading Robin Meyer’s landmark book, Saving Jesus From the Church. I found this book to be both challenging and insightful, not to mention timely considering the continuing flow of statistics showing the numerical demise of the Christian faith. This steady decrease in both numbers and influence makes Meyer’s book all the more relevant to the times and culture the church now exists in.
If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you are well aware that I have long believed that our mission as followers of Jesus is to incarnate his proactive love within the parameters of the gifting God has bestowed upon us and within the context where we have been placed. Some months back I penned these words – words I still hold deeply:
“If we take Jesus’ words recorded in the 25th Chapter of Matthew as true, then it should be obvious to even the most dense among us that the litmus test for defining a Christian is not belief in Christ, but in embodying Christ.”
Meyers discusses this critical time in the church’s history and the potential for something wonderful being birthed out of the pains of the current labor. Utilizing the imagery of Robert Frost, Meyers tells us that:
Those roads that “diverged in a yellow wood” so long ago looked equally fair, but now one is well worn. It is the road of the Fall and redemption, original sin, and the Savior. The other is the road of enlightenment, wisdom, creation-centered spirituality, and a nearly forgotten object of discipleship: transformation. This is the road less traveled. It seeks not to save our souls but to restore them.
In my earlier writings I have alluded to similar themes time and time again. I can also certainly relate to the description of one of those folks sitting in the pews looking for something vital and critical to my spiritual survival but never quite finding it. No matter where I searched, it never quite fit. I was like the proverbial square peg and whether the pew was in a liberal church or a conservative one, I found only round holes. I now suspect there are a lot more people out there like me – sincere spiritual seekers that feel drawn, at times almost against their will, toward the church. I have at last come to understand why this “drawing” (or fatal attraction!) has never let up. It was never supposed to let up. Like Jonah, I had a mission and I still do.
Each of us is called to be part of the healing process for the church. I am not being overly general here. If you are a Christian, then you have the tools and abilities to accomplish this. You have a part to play in helping to restore the Body of Christ to its rightful and needed place in our culture and furthermore, you have been equipped to carry out this divine calling. What is lacking in far too many is the dedication, discipline, and means to do it. Also, keep in mind that when you are true to you calling, things will fall into place.
Remaining on the current road is no longer an option, and this is true in both the fundamentalist/conservative arms of the church and the liberal arm as well. Meyers warns us:
If we do not stop traveling down the road we are on, we will not just destroy the planet and everyone on it but continue to betray the heart of Christianity. Our task now is not just to demythologize Jesus. It is to let the breath of the Galilean sage fall on the neck of the church again. First we have to listen not to formulas of salvation but to a gospel that is all but forgotten. After centuries of being told that “Jesus saves,” the time has come to save Jesus from the church.
If the door is locked, we will break in through the windows. If anyone forbids us to approach the table, we will overturn it and serve communion on the floor. If any priest tells us we cannot sing this new son, we will sing it louder, invite others to sing it with us, and raise our voices in unison across all the boundaries of human contrivance – until this joyful chorus is heard in every corner of the world, and the church itself is raised from the dead.
For me personally, these words issued by Meyers serve as a clarion call to get up, gird up, and get busy going about the work I have been called to do. In my mind and in my heart, there is no doubt about that calling. The question now is not, “What am I to do?” The question, instead, is, “When do I begin?”
© L.D. Turner 2010/ All Rights Reserved