Harper and Metzger call the church in North America a “little flock.” It is convicting to read those words. We think the Church is huge. Maybe it is not.
Their words are sharp. It is almost like reading one of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. We need to hear this message.
In the past generation we, as the Church, have been ghettoized. The principalities and powers of our culture have made sure the Church stays divided up. The key is to get people excited about causes… just not the same cause. More importantly, do not get them excited about the sacramental witness that is key to worship.
So, the Republicans took up the cause of “pro-life” and “pro-family.” They ghettoized the conservative evangelicals. The evangelicals were promised the moon if they would vote for their guy.
The Democrats took up the cause of the poor and the planet. They ghettoized the “liberal” mainline churches.
It was vitally important to pick only one or two causes because if you pick too many, you lose people. Focus. Then, blast away at anyone who just doesn’t see it your way.
And through all of this we’ve lost our passionate love for Christ. We have turned our eyes from the throne, we have abandoned the story, and left the Table. We have taken up political causes because the attention is nice. For conservatives, it was nice to be invited to pray at national conventions. Then, mainline and some evangelical leaders were called on to pray at the Democrat events. It’s heady stuff.
So, “conservatives” and “liberals” have blasted away at each other, using straw men like Rush Limbaugh or Keith Olbermann. But as we rail against those straw men, we dig trenches around our encampments as believers and refuse to sit down at the Table together. We will have the occasional “ecumenical” service, but that’s about it. Even then, there is the temptation to through in our little jabs and shroud them in Scripture.
What would happen if the Church decided to come together again? What if we gathered around the significance of baptism and the Eucharist once again?
Well… we’d lose power. The principalities and power handlers would not be happy. Tax deductions would go away. Our giving would potentially dry up because we don’t have that tax shelter anymore. (God forbid we would give because it’s WORSHIP.) We wouldn’t get invited on TV… the attention would go away.
We would then have to turn back to Christ and gaze on HIS beauty. We would have to focus on the commonality found in our spiritual community as believers. While the principalities and powers would consign us to the curb… or worse.
So… we will stay in our ghettos because having national attention is whole lot more fun than suffering. Who has time for that?