29 November 2007
It began with a simple question: why do so many people discover more grace and acceptance and love and support from a local tavern than is able to be found in our local churches? There are many roads of possibilities that might challenge our thinking on this, some which are very simple while others struggle to make sense. But the reality is before us, that the amount of ‘community individualism’ has indeed taken its toll on us - pushing us to the very limits of what we can sustain and still be loosely considered the people of god. And maybe we are just content to allow people to find their acceptance wherever they can, so long as it doesn’t bother us and can leave us with the assurance that, at the very least, they have found happiness. Nevermind that they will never find fulfillment and joy, for they are happy and we are cozy and there seem to be a number of bartenders who are reliant upon their coming and weeping.
This is how a heart is moved, by looking upon those who are desperately in need while simultaneously seeing those who are to pious and proud to give a damn about anything other than themselves. The heart is therefore moved by compassion and anger, most dramatically where the two converge and where the prayers of the saints become passionate and emboldened. Did we ever expect that the people who were destined to extend mercy to the most fragile and grace to the unloveable would ever be the greatest motivator to send them further down their road to hell? Maybe hell is more figurative than we first imagined and more literal than we initially feared, that it may be reserved for those who have done greater damage to the hurting than a few shots in a glass could ever accomplish. We might just find that it is those who are the most feeble and the most desperate who rise the highest, because it seems that we have vastly underestimated the grandeur of true grace. And so this is how a heart is moved. . .
Let the indictments fly, the fingers pointed, and the blame cast upon all of the reasons why we could not simply show love and extend mercy to the hurting and broken. Yes, let us blame the bartenders and the distilleries for their gross negligence and vast misconduct. So long as we do not feel the pressure to invest in people and change hearts and minds. This is the product of our ‘community individualism’ that we should preserve our own self-interests while it is to hell with everything else. Let us condemn with blame those who rest in the shadow of our apathetic hypocrisy. For the church has failed to be the people of god whenever we allow grace and acceptance to be found in any other name under heaven. So, it began with a simple question.