What does it mean to Be the Real Church?
Leadership of a Congregation a Community or a Nation demands authentic, audacious, and authoritative presence. They are critically important, as is “Truth” from all perspectives, perceptions, and precepts. Soren Kierkegaard said, “To know the Truth and not Be the Truth is to embellish that very Truth with error!”
I am concerned, as a member of the community of faith in the United Church of Christ and a church consultant, that churches remain non-partisan. Just saying you are non-partisan while speaking against the current administration is partisan. Saying you are non-partisan and speaking for eh current administration is partisan. All voices need to be heard, honored, and honestly and respectfully responded to not reacted to.. The church is called primarily to love all people regardless of anything about them. The church is called to challenge any position or posture of leadership while respecting the same. We are not called to label people or positions. When we do we reveal our own institutional bias and prejudice while confronting the bass and prejudice of others. Jesus said “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s. How do we as “the real church” do that?
Our primary responsibility in relationship with those in authority and leadership over us is: to Pray for them. Pray for Our President! That is the call that should be going forth from every steeple, dome, or mosque. Zechariah reminds us that it is “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit” that internal and external change is achieved. God’s leading and direction has no partisanship associated with it and leaves to God changing what needs to be changed by God. Changing our attitude of political and social action will change our society. Attitudes precede actions and from them. As a church we simply and profoundly model humility and honesty: “speaking what we believe to be true with compassion and love” before others who believe differently. It is not declaring that our judgment or position is right and others wrong which reveals our bias and prejudice.
When Mordecai suggested to Esther that she might be placed in her position of influence for “such a time as this”, it was not lobbying for a political position but to promote the discovery of truth. The modern day version may be “Speaking truth to power” which is different than speaking in opposition to those in power. We need to pray for all our congresspeople and justices because they are in their positions for such a time as this. Please also note that Esther risked everything when she with a vital and vibrant balance of boldness and humility approached the King. Remember Jesus words, “The meek shall inherit the earth”.
Could it be that we are called “in such a time as this” to pray in massive and momentous gatherings that demonstrates unity from all and of all faiths. Not great speeches but powerful prayers shook the whole world in the first century because the church prayed. The church prayed for Saul of Tarsus and all those who persecuted the church. Saul became Paul.
Please do not misunderstand my point here. My primary point is not that we should not speak out march or demonstrate (I have and will) but that all we do as the “United Church of Christ” is to be dome in the mindset and humility of Christ. “in God and in Christ we are all one, we all deserve “liberty and justice”.
Speaking the truth as we see it and respecting the truth as others see it, is living the Truth. Jesus lived and modeled truth more than trying to direct people to any particular version of the truth. John reminds us that Jesus was “the Truth and the Grace” of God in dynamic tension and in designated tenderness. He never addressed the political aristocracy as that was not his focus. HIs focus was the hearts and minds of people which can be changed in the power of the Spirit. When in peace we express the power of love to transform the most misled of people, we are the church.
Let us Pray for Our President, united together as one, with commitment to the transforming power of prayer and Spirit.
“A proactive church is not a reactive church, love never fails”
Rev. Dr. Don Paine, member of
The United Church of Christ in Stockbridge, MA.