THE TRUTH ABOUT CHURCH
Consider what is happening in our society. In recent years, almost every major institution in our society has been rocked by scandal. Our institutions are the vehicles that bind our society together—whether it is the government, charities, corporations, universities, or the church. We have so little trust in any authority that we no longer trust any institution and believe that expert is just another word for propagandist. The Internet provides us such a wealth of information from such a wide variety of perspectives that it doesn’t take long to find someone who will provide us information that will reinforce what we are inclined to believe. Then we divide up each to his or her own camp and spit at those who disagree with us.
The result is that we respond from our gut based on information that may or may not be accurate. Frequently we are attracted to arguments that appeal to our desires or justify our fears and are not interested in any information that may challenge what we believe. Steve Colbert said it well when he coined the word TRUTHINESS. Truthiness is that statement that expresses what we want to believe, whether that be that the moon landing was all a government hoax to experts who declare that the relaxation derived from smoking far outweighs the dangers from nicotine.
We find ourselves divided by multiple ideologies that appeal to our lesser angels even though we hunger for a community that both supports and nurtures the finer qualities of charity, compassion, justice, and mercy. In our current political season, we are witnessing political campaigns that speak to our fears and appeal to the stronger suspicions of each other.
SEEING THE CHURCH AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
In that context, look again at the church. When you read the stories of Scripture, you see the picture of a faith community that recognizes its failures but dares to proclaim that there is a God who continues to work through very human communities to give evidence of grace, mercy, joy, and hope. At its best, the church paints a picture of a community that nurtures the best that is within us and builds on our vision of a peaceful and joyful community. Through praise it reminds us that we are part of something greater than the sum of our weaknesses. Through Scriptures it tells a story of God who has been there before us and is not defeated by our sins. Through song we are drawn together as community. Through prayers and sacraments we are forgiven of our sins and bound together as a community. While not denying our less admirable human qualities, we are repeatedly given hope that God is not defeated by sin and we can join in that journey.
HEARING THE STORY AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME
Imagine the impact on members of your congregation if they understood this critical value of the church in our polarized society. Maybe we need to believe it ourselves and then share it with others.