Have you ever spoken with someone who is new to a space/community/workplace and had them draw out how much of the space is culture and implied but never spoken?
I remember when I was working for the parks department as a college kid. I was talking with one of the guys one day and we were chatting about what it was like in a union environment (he had worked there before).
It was the most stereotypical union environment ever.
He was new and trying to make an impression and working really hard. But he was getting looks and not good looks. A few days of people kind glaring and then someone kind of half joking says “whoa there, slow down. Leave some work for the rest of us.” Awkward laugh and everyone moves on.
But then he gets the actual “hey there, take ‘er easy.” Stop working so hard that’s not how it works.
This is not every union environment for sure but you get the idea.
The church is a union and not a good one.
Think about it.
Someone who has never been involved becomes a Christian and is instantly part of the group, but they don’t know the rules. This kind of person is dangerous to the church. This kind of person doesn’t get it. They just read the bible and do what is says. That is until they find the church.
“Soooooo, I was reading my bible and just get the sense that we’re suppose to love everyone”
“Why don’t we”
“what about _____________ (insert anyone the church doesn’t love because the list is LOOOOONG)”
“Well we do but….ummm you see….. so God made everything and….it’s not that he hates people but…ummmm”
Or how about:
“I was thinking about love and grace and service and I think we’re just to consumeristic you know?”
“Why doesn’t that ever seem to apply to peoples work?”
“well if we’re not suppose to be consmeristic and taking advantage of people how you work for ______? Like, they take advantage of people and screw people all the time for money?”
“No, no, no it’s not like that. God want us to work and use our talents. Have you read the story about using your talents and not burying them? Read it, that’ll totally explain. But yeah don’t be consumeristic that’s not good Christian stuff.”
“But your work perpetuates that?”
“No it’s different don’t worry. And what else would I do, quit? God wouldn’t want that.”
And on and on we go.
No that one’s a metaphor.
No it’s all cultural.
I don’t even think we hear ourselves.
It’s not every church and it’s not every Christian but wow are there a lot of them.
We’ve taught ourselves every sort of trick and reason to not live the way we know we’re called to. As if there are some sort of loop holes for us to live like everyone else and still be living the life God set out, we just need to find them. As if God is sitting up in some cloud saying “oh look there, they finally found out how to sin and it not count. I can’t believe it took them so long to find the loop holes! It’s not like I ACTUALY wanted them to live this way.”
We’re like children and I suspect we all need to grow up a little and take some responsibility for our misses rather than justify them. Maybe the problem is that so many of us aren’t children, we’re adults acting like children.
Like with everything you can’t change it all at once but I think I like most could us to do some growing up.