Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Conformity is not a fruit of the spirit

I wanted to draw your attention to another post from Dan Edelen, Misfits of the Church. Dan has noticed something that confounds many of the leaders and thinkers of the church, namely all of those misfit Christians who don’t go along to get along, as Dan describes them, the proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

Dan’s conclusion to his post is spot on….

I keep encountering more longtime Christians who are giving up. They’re not abandoning Jesus; they simply don’t know how to fit within the typical church. And it’s not for trying. I know these people have tried. But they’re weary of always receiving the left hand of fellowship, and they despair of ever contributing their God-given gifts because The Church™ does not want those gifts or it places ridiculous qualifications on their use that have no basis in Scripture and every basis in human selfishness and pride.

We talk, talk, talk, and talk about community in the Church, but what kind of community do we really have when someone is told to stop being the person God Himself is making him?

The Kingdom of God is filled with misfits, so how come our churches aren’t?
Ah but there are many people who see turning your back on the organized church as tantamount to turning your back on Jesus, something that is silly on its face but awfully damaging to a lot of people who have come to a Biblically based conclusion, or who have been wounded by the traditional church or who just are tired of the hypocrisy and “going through the motions”. I am finding more and more people who have not only not stopped following Jesus because they have walked away from "church" but might just be following Him more closely. In spite of that, there brothers and sisters are chastised and slandered and often feel like they are alone in the world. In reality there are far more of them than anyone might think.

This is one of the best treatments I have seen on this topic. So many church-goers read the New Testament about a ragtag band of persecuted and reviled nobodies that are goofballs and social pariahs but they are united by following the King, a King who not only tolerates them, He welcomes them and indeed He chose them to be His followers. Then they look around at the sea of conformity that we call the church, a conformity that tolerates no dissent, no challenge and they start to wonder where we went wrong. If you think that is not true, try commenting on a blog post and questioning the conformist status quo. Try acting or looking different. Ask the wrong questions, be too open and vulnerable, operate outside of the confines of a “local church” and you will quickly find yourself branded “anti-authority” or worse.

The evangelical, middle to upper class, white suburban church in America expects “Christians” to look a certain way, dress a certain way, live a certain way, vote a certain way and above all else to not rock the boat. It sometimes seems that we prefer religious unbelievers who look, act, think and vote the same way we do to an actual believer that is irreligious, radical and makes us uncomfortable. Little wonder the misfits are walking away.

Jesus chose what was weak, foolish and unlikely from the world to be His first followers and He still does so today. It is a troubling question indeed to ask why the church looks more like a PTA meeting than a band of followers who have abandoned all for the King.

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