How to Flip the Church on Its Head.
To whom much is given, much shall be required.
I recently read a book called The Fellowship of Differents,
and then immediately proceeded to lose it while traveling from Nashville to Phoenix. I’m still not sure how I pulled that one off, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that I really wanted to quote the book on something.
The book discusses the fellowship of the church, and the author pushes the idea that by definition, church should involve people of different races, classes, ages, political parties, genders, sexualities, or theological schools of thought. Literally anyone should feel welcome walking in, and yet the author wouldn’t be writing this book if this was reality.
The church tends to privilege a very small group of people.
That group depends a little on what church we’re talking about, but on a national, American church level, the author says it’s upper middle class white males who enjoy reading (the Bible), look like leaders (tall, strong jawlines, symmetrical faces. It’s called the halo effect.), and have decent social skills and emotional intelligence.
Those people are the ones preaching, ushering, handing out communion, and leading small groups. When they’re the only ones leading, they become the epitome of a person who goes to church, and subconsciously, we begin to see others as secondary.
The above qualities are totally based on luck.
Whether I like it or not though, I fit the shoes of the person described above. That’s not me bragging on myself; I just won some twisted genetic and societal lottery. I could deny that I fit those qualities for the sake of humility, but I don’t think that helps anyone.
Here’s the thing. I’m going into ministry myself. To a large extent, that’s incredibly comfortable for me. Before people even meet me, they unconsciously associate me with church because I simply look the part. With that in mind, I could easily just relish what I have and keep things the same.
Yet, God calls us to more.
Yes, the above qualities are based on luck, but realistically they are blessings. They’ve made my life a whole lot easier (although that’s not to say it’s been entirely easy), but I haven’t been given what I have just for funsies.
God calls us to lay down our lives for the sake of other people. I would gain a lot if the church status quo stayed the same, but I’d rather live for those who’d gain the most if the church was flipped on it’s head.
Chance the Rapper has a song called, “How Great.” It’s a remix of How Great is Our God, and it’s straight fire. His verse on the song starts with the line,
“Magnify, Magnify, lift it on high.”
To those whom much has been given, much will be required.
To those who have been privileged in every way, they ought to point their privilege at the lost, the lowly, the sick, the poor, and the outsider.
I’ve been blessed by the genetic lottery, but not for my own sake. I have what I have so that I can lift others up. We’re all parts of the body of Christ, and I hope to spend my life pointing people to where they can live into their fullest potential as a part of that body (which goes for both those already in the body and those still outside as well).
The reason any of us can even know God is because of Jesus’ death. He literally gave up his life for our sake, and that allows us to come together in the body. His life serves as a call for us to do the same, and we do Him a disservice by giving anything less than everything we have.
Not much happens by accident.
You see, God blessed me with advantages called privilege. He also gave me an ability to captivate people’s attention like nobody’s business, and I love doing it too. My favorite place to be is the limelight with everyone’s eyes on me. On top of that, He called me into ministry.
For a long time, I captivated people’s attention and then directed it at myself. I made sure people saw I was the funniest, smoothest, and best guy in the room. If I’m doing this whole Jesus thing though, that has to stop. My gifts aren’t bad; they’re just not for me.
Instead, I can be a magnifying glass that directs the attention of others to those who are unseen, and both affirms and empowers them.
Obviously I write this in the context of church ministry, but in my mind, this is my whole calling. C.S. Lewis once said that “true humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself less.”
He couldn’t have been more right, but I tend to think of myself a lot. Writing this is my way of pushing myself away from that. So daily, I remind myself;