I wrote this a year ago......
“I need something to believe in,” he said. “It’s either that or just give up.”~Protester at Occupy Wall Street
We are blowing the moment. We are preaching a version of Christ that cannot be found in the Bible to a people that are crying out for the Christ that is present in the Gospels. What relevance is there in fulminating against gay marriage to a father struggling to feed his children? We are preaching against evolution while families wonder how to save their home from foreclosure. Our food pantries and benevolence funds are empty while pastors rant against gay soldiers putting their lives on the line for our country.
We are preaching to a dead church what the corpse wants to hear, while outside the sanctuary people who desperately need the Christ who was an advocate for the poor and the powerless can't figure out how the church they see at Value Voters conferences has any relevance to their immediate needs. So they turn elsewhere for comfort.
There's a reason the church is deemed irrelevant by tens of millions of Americans. We're in an economic crisis of near historic proportions, more Americans live below the poverty line today than in anytime since the Great Depression. Millions of homes are in or near foreclosure, the percentage of Americans requiring food assistance stuns the imagination, at the current pace of job creation we'll not see a return to 5/6% unemployment for a decade if ever. And what are our so called religious leaders up in arms about? Gay marriage, evolution, and school prayer.
Could there be issues less important or relevant to the millions of Americans wondering how to feed, clothe, and shelter their families than gay marriage or creationism? Is it possible for the church to get farther from relevance to the immediate needs of their flocks or the people we're trying to reach for Christ than we are today? If a father asks "How do I feed my children?", "Vote against gay marriage, and for school prayer." is an answer unlikely to move him to Christ.
So it's no wonder that for millions of people in crisis, the church isn't relevant, in fact they never even consider it as being part of the solution because the church seems blindly focused on problems that have no bearing on hunger, unemployment, homelessness, and the gut wrenching despair that accompany those troubles. There is a season for every cause, and to the extent that the church focuses on problems that do not have relevance to the season we're in, we fail Jesus.
People are in despair, fear, hunger. They feel that no one among the powerful heeds their fears. And they AREN’T TURNING TO CHRIST FOR ANSWERS. Why? Because many people feel the same way about the church that they feel about the rest of America’s institutions. The church in America has become like the rest of the structure that resides at the top of the food chain, unresponsive, arrogant, disconnected, and self-righteous. The church lectures, protects its own, admits to no faults, seems more concerned with appearances than relevance. It has abandoned service to the least of us in favor of legislating morals. Maybe it’s time we take some guidance from the folks occupying Main Street and Occupy the Church.
Who knew it was going to be a Pope do the occupying?