Friday, September 25, 2009

Out of the ghetto

Ghettos are locales where people of a similar culture, social, or economic group live or hang out.
Sometimes this is enforced by an authoritarian government: Jews in various nations during WWII, Israelites in Eqypt in the time of the Pharaohs. Keep them together behind a fence so we can keep track of them, and so they can't bother us.
Sometimes it is completely voluntary. Hutterite, Amish or Mennonite communities, 'Little Italy' or other ethnic neighborhoods. Let's keep our uniqueness intact, so everyone else won't influence us.

I see a lot of the second, voluntary kind of ghettoization in the church.
There can be so many activities/meetings/programs that there is no time left to get to know anyone from outside 'the group'. Business connections so you can get your car, teeth, hair or house fixed by a fellow Christian. Christian sports leagues. Christian media. Some get so paranoid that they won't even associate with someone from the church across the street.

And still we think we are being a worthwhile influence in society. Just how do we think we are accomplishing this worthwhile influence?
When we march against some particular 'ill of society'?
When we gather in our bunkers to pray or pontificate about these 'ills'?
When we get together and bemoan how bad the world is getting?

I dare you!
--Don't look in the Shepherd's Guide the next time you need a professional.
--Quit your 'Christian' hockey team and join a 'normal' one.
--Drop one or two of your regular church activities and start hanging out with buddies from work. Or just start hanging out at your neighborhood purveyor of your favorite beverage.
--Don't sign up for yet another seminar about how to be a better Christian. Just get out there and do it.

Assuming that the presence of God's Spirit in your life is making you a better citizen, start being yourself.
--Join a political party that appears to promote better treatment of the little guy.
--Join a civic organization or service club or interest group.
--Find some worthwhile endeavor and help.

(As I was writing this, I received a message from someone who had been planning on joining the particular street outreach group I work with. She had to bow out until next Spring because she is planning on taking a weekly one of those "Better Yourself and Your Life" seminars that have the purpose of "teaching people To Live Their Lives Much More Better & Much More Fulfilled (In Every Area!) In A Spiritually & Physically & Mentally & Emotionally & Financially Way"!!
I kid you not.)


Searcher said...

This challenge is right on I feel! I've often wondered when sitting in a service if it wouldn't be more beneficial on some occasions to be outside visiting with folks as they come down the street or go to a park whatever. Increasing ones circle of acquaintances would increase opportunities to share your hope/faith. I do on some occasions visit other believer gatherings to be more aware of possible locations to point folk to if they show spiritual interests. Ones that would perhaps better suit the individual; hopefully one is sensitive to the Spirits leading.

It would seem reasonable that to be salt, it has to be in the mixture. Good thoughts Al.

Ed said...

Your thoughts and rants are simple and biblically based. I am quite certain that as you become a famous writer of sorts you will need to contend with a the "mainline" audience. A defensive audience raised with ignorant belief patterns they may call the "truth". A great example of that is how the book written by W.Paul Young (The Shack) has stirred up so much controversy with the "mainline" experts.
All i know is that your rants and blogs strike an inner vibe that awakens my taste for more truth. I appreciate your thoughts.
I hope that you will remember me once you become a famous writer someday and that we could still have our annual coffee and discussions.

Al said...

Thanks, guys. I think I hope to challenge people to think, to respond in a Christ-like manner--not necessarily the way we have been taught.
As far as awakening a desire for truth--I don't think truth is as static as we might figure. There is always a deeper way of examining something, so we must all be open to keep digging.
Yes, Ed, when I am rich and famous (as opposed to just rich like you!) we will still get together over coffee!

Luke said...

i LOVED this post!

esp "--Don't sign up for yet another seminar about how to be a better Christian. Just get out there and do it."

damn right! someone told me recently that they needed quite time away to work on their relationship with God. i was floored. for me you can't be ALONE and work on God's relationship with yourself. it's already established and the best way to "work" on it is with other ppl! when two or three are gathered! when we help others, we help God. when we work on our relationship with our friends and family and wider world, we work on our relationship with God. it's inherently and inseparably communal.

so i told the person that they need to head to a food bank NOT a mountain top resort. i'm not against an introspective walk in the woods now and then, but that's more meditation and prayer than being salt and light and with God's people.

Al said...

Thanks, Luke! :)


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