Karl Marx has been credited with saying, “Philosophers have only interpreted the world differently; the point is, however, to change it.” I like to take this statement and change it up a bit. I say, Christians have only interpreted the church differently; the point is, however, to change it.
There came a time, in church history, while in the midst of figuring out what kinds of ministry we wanted to participate in and pressing forward in pursuit of the way Jesus asks us to live; we began to separate ourselves from other Christians, based on beliefs, and this left our (Christ’s) body torn apart and strewn mutilated all across the world. We made it so that unless people agreed with our way of thinking, then they could not feel comfortable to worship God in our communities. The problem with this was that everyone else, Christian or not, noticed what we were doing and tagged us as no different from the rest of the world. What we have created, in many senses, is a political struggle that argues over right and wrong, spirituality and non-spirituality, and leaves those who are most in need of Christian community feeling as though the church is not a safe place to become honest and receive grace. People pick the church that best fits their particular belief system and then try to make themselves fit into the puzzle of church through adapting the rest of their individual beliefs. And the result is precisely pseudo-, or almost-community. We never quite get to experience the fullness and grace of Christ’s body because we never learn to value honesty and the truth that grace follows a vulnerability of the heart. I understand this is a blanket statement, but I also believe that it is happening in churches all around the world.
So how can the church become a safe place for people to enter into true community? I can imagine that the answers to that question are quite diverse and, for some, extremely complicated. My point in asking the question is not to provide an answer. If I did that we might all end up back in the same place we were when the question was posed, fighting and dividing over what we think is right and wrong, and deciding who is more spiritual. Nevertheless, the church does need to become a safe place for people to come and learn about what God has done for them. By that I mean sending His Son to die for us all. I do not necessarily even believe that this kind of knowledge needs to be attained through a church service. After all, the church is not a building. It is not even a building of people. The church is the people of God, and we need to become a safe place, together, with our lifestyles.