by Shauna Marie Hyde
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I won’t lie; I struggle as a Christian pastor. There was a time when I wore my clerical collar with great pride and now sometimes I wonder if I really want to put it on. The Christian church is failing and it is sad to see that we continue to readily accept unwelcoming, judgmental, harsh attitudes as the correct moral approach to people and life. Churches eat their people alive with constant criticism, negativity, lack of commitment and general apathy. We have driven away pretty much anyone 45 years old and younger with our arguing, nastiness, gossipy, holier-than-thou attitudes. Everyone thinks they are in charge but are not required to do any work. Everyone thinks their opinion is the right one, their belief the only one, and how dare you tell them about themselves – you are to listen to them tell you about you!
God is not important anymore…and neither is the value of life itself. All that is important are opinion, right of way, and hate. If I wasn’t clergy I wouldn’t go to church today. I am told I cannot do certain things because I am a woman and I am to be a second class citizen even though I have all the same rights, abilities, and often more education than the men in the church. My friends and family who have dark skin, who are poor, uncultured, or labeled as “trailer trash,” or who are gay are not welcome. Children are “wanted” only if they are perfect, quiet, never make a mess or a sound and are cute. We want everyone to come but not those who stink, dress inappropriately, make a mess, ask for money, say “amen” too loud, and sing off key or sit in our spot.
What happened to being the one place where sanctuary and safety was offered? What happened to love – the kind that heals instead of demands perfection (which means to be like us)? What happened to being like Jesus?
That’s what makes it all so sad. We have the answer and we are the best possible solution for the world today. We have just gotten to where we believe in Paul more than Jesus. We think that the law supersedes grace instead of remembering that Christ came to break all the rules and to change the world with grace. If we want to survive and be viewed as having any good street cred we have to start being who we were intended to be – the Body of Christ. We are God with skin on only without the power and ability to determine who will reach Heaven and who is lacking in salvation. For that matter we cannot save people – only God can. Our job is to make the introduction. My lovelies, this is a wonderful, powerful, and important job to have! We must introduce people to God instead of trying to be God. We must remember that people know what is wrong with them and they are literally dying to know that they are still loveable, worth saving, and valuable to someone. They need to know that they can trust us and that we will accept them for themselves; not for who we tell them they must become in order to win our love. God doesn’t do that, so where did we get the idea that we must do that?
Christians, let us be like Christ. Let us vow to be his hands and feet in this world. Let us be so filled with love that we are unafraid to sit with sinners, touch lepers, love those who are struggling, and offer hope. Instead of keeping people from church let us go out and remind them they are loved. The next great revival needs to be a #loverevolution!