Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 7: 21-23 (English Standard Version)
…You wake up in a museum. It’s a gleaming gallery of metal and white marble with visitors in exotic clothing. As you go about, you find out you’re in the future-the year 2250 to be exact. You also find out that the world is at peace; no war, hatred, deprivation, or illness. You find
You come to a wing where 20th-21st Century artifacts are exhibited. As you stroll with other visitors, you recognize various items: personal computer; automobile; cellphone, the myriad media of the time….
Then you come to a small walk-through exhibit of a Christian church-much like one you probably attend. Piped Gospel music is played, while artifacts like a Bible, a minister’s robe, a collection plate, and other ecclesiastical items are on display. Puzzled, you scratch your head and wonder why you see such a sight. You find a curator nearby and ask her what’s with the exhibit….
The curator then proceeds to explain that the exhibit represented an old American church and the “extinct” religion called Christianity, which died out over a generation earlier. In the 23rd Century, there are no more churches, no more religions, and that the world is the better without them…
You gasp in horror, and just before you raise a protest…
You wake up and realize it was just a bad dream. You mumble thanks to God and return to sleep, grateful that such a scenario will never happen…
…Or will it?
We need not only to examine ourselves individually this Lenten Season, we need to examine ourselves collectively as well. As people who claim to follow Jesus, we’ve been doing a poor job of representing our Lord. We’ve been anti-science, anti-choice, anti-women’s rights, pro-military, blindly patriotic, hateful, homophobic, racist, anti-poor, anti-child, anti-environmental, pro-market, etc…
In fact, we’ve turned people off to Christ instead of turning them on. We’ve never took the time to step back and honestly examine ourselves; we’ve deluded ourselves with this “Christian” hubris that says we’re right-despite evidence to the contrary. We’re quick to blame the Atheists/Agnostics, GLBTQs, “liberals”, Wiccans, Pagans, etc, instead of realizing we’re our own worst enemy.
And something tells me God’s getting tired of this nonsense. God calls us to represent Christ in our day-to-day; to do His/Her will. However, the Church is living the opposite. Who’s to say that God may not step back one day and let the Church slide into extinction? Who’s to say that God may allow church attendance to dwindle? Have one-time fully tithing, self-sufficient churches go bankrupt? Pastors, priests, bishops, and the lot end up unemployed? That Christian media in its various forms start to vanish?
What if in the final analysis we stand before Jesus and state, “Lord, Lord, did we not bring prayer back to schools, closed up abortion clinics and porn shops, fought against Gay marriage, fought against Evolution with Creationism and Intelligent Design, built big mega-churches, flood the airwaves with Your message, and tried to bring our nations back to You…all in Your Name?” And then Jesus tells us to get lost because He never knew us? That we never took time to know Him, just know about Him? That we never truly followed the will of His Father (or Mother) in Heaven; but our own will? And what would be worse than Jesus adding that God allowed the Church to fall apart because we turned the world off to Him/Her. That Christianity took the “Christ” out of it, and in turn, God took Christianity of the world; and to add insult to injury allow the world to go on just fine without us.
And before we think God won’t do it, we best remember that this is God’s game, not ours.
What if…? Something for us to think on this Lenten Season.
Grace and Peace.