Friday, March 19, 2010
Jesus, followed by his early community of followers, transformed purity from a concern with social rank and spiritual superiority to service. Jesus washed the disciples’ feet to say: purity is ministering to the neediest in the community, not distinguishing yourself from them.I cannot think of a more lost message in Christianity today than th one I have highlighted in that pullquote. Just survey the best selling titles at a book "Christian" bookstore. Most and in the category self-help, and many are just blatant in the appeal - "Your Best Life Now."
This revolutionized ancient religion. Its consequences were world-transformative. As Rodney Stark points out in The Rise of Christianity, when the Roman Empire was hit with the plague, and everyone else ran away, the Christians stayed behind and ministered to the sick and dying. Thus, it began to grow exponentially.
This implies that in the New Testament, “impure” becomes a synonym for “selfish” or “self-serving”, as in Ephesians 5:5: “No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God (NIV).” Thus, the text covers three basic classes of actions excluded from the kingdom to be inaugurated by Jesus Christ: wrong actions in sexual behavior, social behavior, and economic behavior. [emphasis added]
If purity=selflessness I must wonder how it is that, in general, the church moves its congregants towards purity at all these days? We cater to every whim of the pew. Where do we teach such selflessness?
I wonder, continually, if it is right to "sell" Christianity on the basis of what it can do for "me" and then turn around and tell people that what it does is make you not worry about yourself so much? I think most of us get PO'd at bait-and-switch from the retailers we deal with, why should be be any different with religion.
Or, are we, like the retailers, satisfied is someone buys something - anything? Is it "the churn" that matters? Isn't that just a tad bit mercenary? Are we really willing to let that many people just fall by the wayside, many of the angry? Are we that unconcerned with the life of EVERY person that walks through our doors?
Indeed, "many are called, few are chosen." But, does that mean we let the church be defined by the unchosen? Does that mean we turn a hard heart to the unchosen?
Should we not at least mourn them?