Writer Henry David Thoreau said, “The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly.”
We live in a wounded world. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves adding insult to injury shrouded in the justice of our causes. Allowing ourselves to become caught up in the affairs of this life, we’re capable of decimating others just because they’re different.
We judge ourselves based on our intentions and we judge others based on their actions. This pitfall permits treating others in the most contemptuous manner possible. As if one person, capable of becoming so other than another person, somehow stops being a person all together.
This “us” versus “them” maladaptive thinking is a far cry from the truth and has been used to justify the most heinous mistreatment and alienation of people who we think are different than we are.
Think it’s not possible for this kind of savagery to sabotage our civilized world? Think again, because this brutal mindset is alive and well in places that deserve better than our modernized versions of vigilante mob justice.
You would think Sundays would be free from these injurious injustices, but oftentimes it actually epitomizes them. Thank God there are exceptions to every rule and places can be found, in the body of Christ, where people postpone judgment for understanding; knowing it’s not their right to judge the actions of others based on their good intentions.
But we all know exceptions prove the rule exists. Statistics show around 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month and 1,300 were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause. And as much as 80 percent of pastors’ children report they no longer attend church because of the impact it had on their parents.
And what about families who might have a child with autism or an intellectual disability? How and where do they fit in on Sunday?
And what about segregation on Sunday? Schools in America might no longer be segregated, but churches are. In fact, Sunday during church you will find segregation alive and well testifying to the truth of how we really feel by who we fellowship with or without.
For regular church attenders, take a look around you this Sunday and notice whose not there.
If you so choose, you can justify your good intentions by accusing my actions of just being excuses for writing candidly to you about what’s really going on.
Unfortunately, these are not excuses. They are real reasons.
Sunday is rapidly becoming Done-day for a growing majority of Americans. One report states 80 percent of Americans are finding more fulfilling things to do on the weekends.
For those who care, I don’t believe this is an instance of what’s happening as much as it’s an instance of what’s not happening. By in large, we no longer act like the body of Christ as much as comptrollers of church buildings.
Healthy competition is the American way and ambition can help you build more than castles in the sand on these shores. Before you continue judging my actions with your good intentions, let me share a bit of truth with you empowering us all to handle the fruit that’s suppose to bloom on Sundays differently and with more delicate care.
The church is a body, not a building. It is community to be engaged, not a competition for attendance.
The church was a community of believers who gathered with one another to engage in communion and to celebrate what Christ had done for them. It wasn’t about property and buildings, it was about loving people and becoming believers.
This was a community movement bigger than any building.
The household of God and the church was preserved by the delicate handling of the blooms of its fruit. Believers in Christ, abolishing all barriers, became the family of faith.
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in his book, “Life Together” said, “Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.”
So how does judging my actions based on your intentions proliferate justice as it relates to expanding Life Together and building genuine Christian community beyond church building borders?
Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clinical pastoral counselor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.