Now here’s a thought. What is the church about? Is it to worship God who made all things? Is it to evangelise, to spread the message of Christ as saviour to all people? Is it to bring help to the poor and needy? You can add to this list of course.
Why are we so concerned about the buildings that we occupy, and why are we so bound by the structures of organisation that we have adopted over the years? So much energy is put into maintaining both of these that I begin to think we spend our time and talents unwisely.
The Gospels tell us of a man, Jesus, who overthrew the negative aspects of Pharasitical thinking, the desire to put law and process above the love that God commands us to act upon.
To put it more simply, I don’t see Jesus having much time for the pomposity of a church that wrings its hands at the steps of St Pauls whilst closing its doors to the people who were once camped out there. I do see Jesus wanting to sing along with the good Christians who went amongst them and shared the word in impromptu religious services.
I don’t see Jesus joining with Rowan Williams and Mr Sentimu as they use clever words in their attempt to discipline the Churches of America and elsewhere with their un-Anglican covenant. I do see Jesus wanting to stand alongside the gay man He has called to be a Bishop and scandalising the church authorities who, in turn, do all they can to destroy him. Does this sound familiar? Christ was hated by the Jewish establishment, whilst he was on earth, because he spoke of a love that was unacceptable to them. They rejected Christ’s ‘blasphemous’ message and engineered His crucifixion.
Followers of Christ have always been on the edge, at risk of rejection and amongst the outcasts of society. The comfortable church that seeks acceptance, that concerns itself only with the trappings of permanence in this world, is a church that has turned away from Christ’s calling. Sentimou’s alliance with Mr Rupert Murdoch, and all that he stands for, by appearing in the ‘Sun on Sunday’ is a cheap trick and has nothing to do with the work of Christ. It is another example of a person who has lost His way, a man walking a different path to the path of Christ.
So what is the Church about? I believe it is about acknowledging our sinfulness accepting His forgiveness of those sins and then rejoicing in the salvation that comes from Him. It is not about getting the best deal or standing in judgement over other people. It is not about the singular love of buildings, music, vestments, power, position or privilege.
It may be hard for a rich man to enter heaven, but it is harder still for many a church leader, I would imagine.