…[I once saw] these shocking words in chalk on the sidewalk… ‘I watch how foolishly man guards his nothing, thereby keeping Me out. Truly God is hated here.’ …I knew there was some truth in what that person wrote, especially in a country where most people are quite comfortable churchgoers and almost all of us do ‘guard our nothing’… It is a knowing that we folks inside the system are not privy to, whereas the beggars to the system see it clearly…
What Jesus and all of the prophets are trying to do is to make sure that all of us have that experience somewhere in our lives of being on the losing side, knowing how much it hurts to hurt… or being someone who has been looked down upon for any reason. That place outside of the system is a liminal space where transformation and conversion is much more likely.
Isn’t it ironic that most of the gospel has probably been preached and taught by people who are very comfortable?
~ Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality
I don’t live in a country where most people are churchgoers. A century ago that might have been the case. WWI saw many British people lose their faith, probably because of exactly what Rohr writes in the above extract. However, there has long been a general complacency within what’s left. Church in many cases has become (or has always been) ‘something we do on a Sunday’. It’s about committees and jumble sales and wearing nice clothes: very middle class and comfortable.
No wonder I left the church I grew up in! Thankfully I did it because I wanted more of God, not less. No wonder the young have, generation by generation, left what they knew of Christianity. Even as a child I could see the gap between what was taught by Jesus and what was actually occurring. They weren’t awful people. They were all very well-meaning, but it was all built around something which had no substance. A puff of air and it all falls apart. This is not what it means to follow Christ. ‘Love one another’ has to hurt.
‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds…’