October 02, 2015

Misplaced Anger

I have a friend who is angry with a local church because they failed to make an appearance at his father’s funeral. For decades the father was a faithful and generous supporter of the church; however the graveside service, which was held over 100 miles away over mountainous roads, was not conducive to the dad’s contemporaries making the trip. My first reaction was to feel the church may have been negligent; however, after some thought it occurs to me that the son is not rejoicing in his father’s welcome in heaven, but is simply hanging on to the trapping of the world. “Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him” (1 Thess 4:13-14 NIV).


Steve Corey said...


-----Nothing in this temporary world is homogenous. Nothing in it is totally good or totally bad. The Greek word from which “church” derived simply means “gathering“. It’s man who embellishes and goes far beyond what is written to make their “gatherings” come to organizational life, with all the power structures and bylaws and rules and decorum of entities alive unto themselves. Then we turn around and look at this organic “church” forgetting that the church never was to be any more than the interacting of Christ’s disciples amongst themselves, interrelating by God’s Word, dealing right with one another, being teachers when knowing something for certain others didn’t, and being students to others who do, influencing, inspiring, and edifying one another, being generous within a group where skills of kindness, gentleness, patience, forbearance, forgiveness, and perseverance, to name just a few, incubate inside the individual and culture amongst them all. But no. That lacks power structure -somebody ruling it; after all, man can not have any kind of recurring interactions with any others without someone being in control of those interactions. Right? And where there’s a need for control, you know for sure there is someone anxious to put on all the pride and pomp necessary for being in control, telling others what to know and how to know it and what to do with what they know and how to do that too.
-----Today the church is like a clinker, a cold hard residue of a former hot glow now cooled into a mere representation with a couple embers glowing deep inside, which you must look very closely to see (I exagerrate.) And we all go to this place representing the way we ought to be, and we be it well there, before going home to be what we really are (still exagerrating a bit.) Since the church has become our doer of righteousness by proxy (if you give it enough money to afford to do it, and less exagerrated,) your friend’s anger is understandable. The church can not have it both ways. It can not be a happy, organic entity when his daddy was being richly generous towards it, then become only so many individuals who don’t have the time or means to drive a hundred miles to honor the passing of one of them. If these wonderful geniuses who are so importantly controlling the churches are that marvelously important, then they somehow forgot towards what they were supposed to be important. By watching their decisions, like this one, it is easy to see The Church is all that is important. And any importance of an individual within its membership is kind of a faceless, generic, rather undefined and unattached-to-any-obligation kind of show of importance, lest of course that individual orbit’s the center of the power structure with offerings to its support. That individual's really important!
-----Think I’m wrong? How many denominations have there come to be?
-----Your friend’s consternation evidences the degree of dysfunction in the church. Yet, that’s just the bad. Like everything else in this temporary world, the church is also good. Your friend needed to ponder for just a moment those Christians who did happen to be at his father’s service. They were gathered, so the Lord was there. They were the church. They did what the Lord wanted from them: they honored; they consoled; they gathered; they loved. They just didn’t file any organizational documents or elect elders to two year terms or hire preachers. Now that feels better.

Love you all,
Steve Corey

Christian Ear said...

Good point Steve!