The Christian church has been around for over two thousand years and has been a major source of good and, sometimes, not so good. From the beginning the church has been called to be faithful to God’s good news that Jesus Christ has come into our world and through his life, death and resurrection has given us all a share in his life today. Jesus, through his suffering and death, without any retaliation or violence, has given us a way of life that is radical, if we life it faithfully.
That faithfulness means that we need to be as concerned about injustice as Jesus was. Yes, even to death. Too often, we know, the church has become just a part of the status quo. It is often turned in on itself, failing to catch the spirit of Jesus. The church is often afraid to be out there speaking truth to power. Martin Luther King felt this way about the church and feared for the future of the church because it had become too timid and too much part of the prevailing culture.
King said: “If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club.” Sadly, we would have to say that King’s prediction has come true too many times.
What would a return to the fervor of the early followers of Jesus look like today? Certainly the status quo would not be unacceptable. Our life would need to be a life of obedience, suffering and service, as His was. Our local churches will need to be places where the evidence of the Holy Spirit is palpable. They would need to be places where there is joy, love, service to each other and an acceptance of the poor and needy who will be invited to sit down with us at the Welcome Table.
As we live together as a family and share the Word of God and the Bread from Heaven, we will receive strength to confront the dominant values of our society. That will often mean that we must change, we must meditate often upon our baptism and the miracle of “re-birth” through baptism that has made us nothing less than the Presence of Christ here and now. And that presence is not a passive presence of acceptance of the current reality of war, racism, poverty, and the unjust way our society has rigged the game against the poor and the middle class.
Our voice must be heard as we speak out to defend the poor and powerless and take stands that will help bring about the society that Jesus came to make real, here and now. This will mean not always voting in our own self-interest, but for the common good. And always realize, that any political structure that does not give preferential treatment to the poor, is a structure built on sand, without the blessing of an all-just God.