Sunday, May 27, 2012

The True Church

Today is Pentecost Sunday, generally considered to be the birthday of the Church. Birthdays are good days to reflect on who we are and who we want to be, where we have come from and where we are going.

Most people have seen or heard of the YouTube video "Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus". For all the hype, it is simply an Evangelical Protestant critique of mainstream Christianity, particularly Catholicism. Naturally, it spawned response videos, such as "Why I Love Religion, And Love Jesus". And all of them are an attempt by corporate religion to say: But we're not like them, we're not that kind of religion, we're something else, something better, and Jesus endorses us alone.

Everyone, corporate religion and individual believers alike, redefines Jesus so that he agrees with their institutional or personal theology. It is easy to do, because it is part of his nature. He himself asked the question: "Who do you say that I am?" He continues to ask us this question, and there is still no single correct answer.

Of course, that has not stopped the many branches of Christianity from each claiming to be the "True Church." None of them are right, however, because none of them are truly willing to embrace God's family. The True Church must include all of us, not just the ones who agree to play by a particular institution's rules. Corporate religion may attempt to reach out to everyone, but they are always willing to reject someone.

"This family I speak of is something beyond what traditional religion is willing to accept. They place limits and conditions upon it. They turn it into a club. But the family I speak of is not their property. It belongs to the One who created us all, the One who loves us all." The True Church can only exist as a potentiality, not an actuality.

But didn't Jesus found the Church? Yes and no. We have always been one family, but we have not always acknowledged it. Jesus did not create the family, he opened our eyes to its true nature. His disciples recognized that God's Chosen People is all of us, not just some of us. But they and we still struggle to fully embrace this truth.

But am I not just redefining Jesus myself? Yes and no. I might call it rediscovery, but that's just semantics. Where I differ from the crowd is that my intention is not to show that Jesus agrees with what I am saying. He is my brother and I want his love, but I do not seek his stamp of approval. The revelation that drives me belongs to the Creator, not Jesus. Again, semantics perhaps ... but not really. God's family is not the only entity that is bigger than corporate religion is willing to admit.