Tuesday, November 1, 2011

God rejects no one....

I caught this video advertising the UCC as a church which affirms and welcomes people -- no matter who they are.  They are the ones with the famous motto "God is still speaking," (comma at the end).  The video is funny and it does point out some well deserved foibles of church growth congregations (sequestering kids to children's ministries so that they do not interrupt worship, dividing people by age bracket or perceived need, etc.).  I had to laugh.  But the video is a lie -- a funny lie to be sure but still a lie.

God does welcome and His church should welcome in His name people from all kinds of backgrounds and situations.  Who in their right mind would dispute that?  God is in the business of calling all kinds of people into fellowship with Him.  Unless Christ died for everyone, He died for no one.  That is not the issue.  What is the issue is whether or not God affirms us as we are, leaves as He finds us, and does not have something to say about the sins we bring with us and in us to the place where He extends His welcome.  The false idea here is that the ONLY way God can welcome us is if He accepts and commends us just as we are -- warts and all.  The false idea here is that the differences among us having nothing to do with sin (which each of us have our own pleasant favorites always less of a problem than the sins we despise in others).  And, by the way, a crying baby or man using a walker is not in the same league as affirming GLABT folks and their lifestyles or turning away people of different races or ethnic backgrounds.

I could and would say the same thing about my own congregation.  We have single moms with kids (who weren't married when the child came along).  We have folks in wheel chairs and walkers.  We have divorced people and divorced folks who have remarried.  We have folks of different ethnic backgrounds and races.  We have gays struggling to deal with their desires along with the straights who have desires not in accord with God's Word and will.  We have sinners of all stripes who are welcome here.  We even have a sinner as a Pastor!  But the point is that while God meets us where we are in Christ, He does not leave us there.

He addresses our sin with the Law to order and protect our lives, to show us our sinner in the mirror of His holiness, and to point us to Him who lived the holy life we should live and died for us the death to sin we could not die.  He has washed us clean in the waters of our baptism and planted His Spirit within us that we might believe in His promise and amend our sinful lives.  He has welcomed us in the arms of His mercy through confession and absolution, restoring the fallen from their ways week after week after week.  He invites us unworthy and undeserving to His Table, the good and the bad, to come and be glad in the gifts born of grace to a people too ashamed to come on their own and too fearful to ask for that which God has not already promised to give.

Frankly, I do not want or need a church to tell me I am okay.  I can tell myself that lie over and over again all on my own.  I do not want or need a church in which everything is acceptable.  I am daily tempted to live in that dream world all by myself.  I do not want or need a church to mirror back to me the cultural trends of the moment.  I can read between the lines to know what is in and what is out and I can fit myself in where I feel comfortable without a preacher to tell me wassup.  I need the Church I do not always want -- the one which will speak to me the Law to break through the hard shell of my self-righteousness and convict me of my sin.... the one that will address me as the fallen sinner I am but with the healing grace of forgiveness in Christ that refuses to leave me upon the trash pile of my wickedness... the one that will speak to me the Gospel of rescue, hope, and mercy in the Word of the Cross... the one that will address the death in me and all around me with the Life that is greater than this death...

For the life of me I cannot figure out why a church like the one advertised would be so attractive -- it gives me something I do not need and it refuses to give me what I need the most.


Anonymous said...

"God is still speaking,"

Yeah, that is right, and He is still saying the same thing in the same way, through his Word.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

I saw this ad quite a while ago, and I agree is quite a lie, the insinuation is that 'other' churches only want relatively young healthy white people as members. God is still speaking eh? Apparently according to the UCC he has a lot of explaining to do in regards to Matthew 5:28-30, Romans 1:18-32, 1Corinthians 6:9-10, and Revelation 21:8, 27.
This is rather like the UMC's campaign 'Open doors, open hearts, open minds.'

Anonymous said...

"This is rather like the UMC's campaign 'Open doors, open hearts, open minds.'"

Their minds are not open to what is in the Bible in clear black and white. Their minds are open to following the world.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Anon, quite right.