So I told them.
And they were not happy.
I have been part of this collective ministry for nearly half of a year; it is a valuable ministry in our community. The elements that bind this ministry together include a focus on five things (bible, prayer, God, Jesus, Spirit). Of the many different faith communities that come together to serve, we have all agreed that we would focus on the five main ideas and not get caught up in other areas where we may disagree. But apparently, it is not permissible to believe that some of the words in the bible (i.e. "God is Love" or "For God so Loved the world...") apply to all people because of other words in the bible. I have learned that, for this organization, it is more important to acknowledge the "Truth" of the bible as opposed to the meaning of the gospel.
To me, this whole sad experience has been representative of a broader "conversation" going on in our world.
Throughout our political campaign season (which is the best metaphor I can think of to describe "eternity"), we have heard about "phony theologies" that "aren't based on the bible." We have heard about the policies that each politician has voted on and how close that lines up with "biblical principles." And when we're not referring to the bible as one monolithic voice shouting policy prescriptions for our modern time, we succumb to the tired and easy terminologies of "liberal" and "conservative" Christians - as if all "liberal Christians" were those who took a more metaphorical approach to scripture and all "conservative Christians" took a more literalist approach to scripture (unless this terminology is suggesting that all "liberal Christians" are vegans and all "conservative Christians" have concealed permits).
The way that we've come to be referred to and/or the way that we have often chosen to identify ourselves is not "Christo-centric" but "biblio-centric."
So the questions that are asked are not the meaningful questions like:
How has God's Love transformed you?
Will you commit to Loving God and Loving neighbor with all of your heart, soul, and mind?
But instead we hear questions like, "What are your thoughts on homosexuality?" and "Do you think the bible is true?"
We are in need of new ways to speak about ourselves - new terms that get to the heart of the matter, as it were. So today, I am proposing that we drop all of these biblo-centric terms and adopt some constructive vocabulary that reveals what we in the Church are all about. It's time that we stop referring to ourselves in terms such as "liberal", "conservative", or even "bible-believing" and start identifying ourselves by how much and who we Love (or at least Strive to Love).
We could have "universal Christians" that Loved everyone.
We could have "universal Christians minus enemies" that were almost there.
And we could allow folks who weren't comfortable with the whole GLBT thing to identify themselves as "straight Christians."
Just think of how helpful this could be! Not only could it help avoid awkward conversations like the one I had today, but it would remind everyone (ourselves included) what our faith is all about.
Because, I don't recall Jesus picking up a canonized bible from the future and calling all of his disciples to pick up their cross and swear allegiance to it. I don't recall Jesus welcoming in everyone except "those people." I remember a Christ that said, "Love (even) your enemies", that proclaimed liberation to the enslaved, and brought Good News to the poor.
The first thing we often say about Christ is how much he Loved; perhaps that's how we should be known as well.
But, then again, what do I know?
I was kicked out of a Christian ministry today.