It occurs to me, that practically speaking, the Church has neither the interest in, nor the ability to further Jesus’ mission of helping people to realize the Kingdom of the Father. No matter what its stated purpose is, the de facto purpose of the vast majority of churches is to create “good citizens” strongly anchored in a belief system that Jesus never taught.
Today at work, our websites took down our Red Cross donation buttons. This is when the focus shifts from the American Katrina disaster, to the South Asian earthquake disaster. It’s now estimated that 80,000 people are dead, unknown numbers homeless, and reconstruction can’t even begin until summer next year. But our websites aren’t going to encourage you to donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and there will be no prime-time fundraising concerts on our TV channels. No matter how much greater the need is. Hey, they’re not Americans, are they?
I think of the media, dutifully honoring every single American soldier who dies in Iraq as a hero, regardless of the circumstances of their life or death (and some undoubtedly are — don’t get me wrong). But no newscast is going to spend 5 minutes reporting and mourning the life of an Iraqi mother, father, son, daughter killed by the insurgency—or by our fire. Being an American is what counts.
Some people’s beliefs cause them to join terrorist groups, and wreak havoc in isolated attacks. Some people’s beliefs cause them to join massive armies that wreak havoc by trying to remake the world in its own image. And the Church, with certain exceptions, applauds the latter. The institution forsakes Christ, and serves Caesar.
I can’t imagine that the myopic culture of Americanism — imagining America simply to be the world, or the only part of the world that counts—would have developed if the Church had kept the Gospels paramount. But “coming as a little child” is hard work, and becoming a good citizen believer is so much easier. But there’s a difference: Jesus told us we must become as little children again, or we miss this Kingdom of heaven.
Little children don’t care about national boundaries —at least not until their parents and teachers brainwash them into think that imaginary lines we superimpose on the trees, hills, rivers, and seas actually separate the world into “us” and “them”. To the little ones, there is just one realm, one Kingdom to live in. And we miss it.
I had a spiritual conversation with someone recently, who’s been conditioned to hear the voice of God in one place only, speaking only certain approved things. He’s a good citizen. And a believer. A really great guy. But, he’s missingthe Kingdom.
Call me a Christian, a Buddhist, a mystic, a heretic, an apostate, an unbeliever. Your labels are your business. All I want is to know God’s heart, and reflect it. What is really is there, but God’s divine love, underneath and within all things, causing them to be? And what purpose is there except to realize it?
Show me a national boundary that God respects, which neither the wind nor the Spirit cross. Then I’ll take countries seriously. Till then, enjoy the dream. Or wake up.