It is arrogant for Christians to think that we have solutions for the world’s problems.
The holy scriptures are treated as a how-to guide for supposedly helping us attain more happiness or success by the unchallenged standards of our society. Join our church to become good citizens, better parents, “fitter, happier, more productive.”
We have spent generations in control of all of the most influential institutions in many parts of the world.
We have been the king, and we have failed. We have sinned. We have exploited our position of power to use other people, bearing the fruit of the ecological crisis that now threatens all life on earth. We have taken generations of offerings and alms to build institutions so regressive and fragile that they are threatened by rearranging chairs or singing a new song that a neighbor brings.
But at the heart of Christianity is not power, control, behavioral modification, or certain sanctuary arrangements. It is death. And not just death in general. Not your death or my death, though they certainly are touched by it. At the heart is the death of Jesus Christ, which is the death of God.
The resurrection is not the central event of Christianity; it is the cross. So where is the room for the arrogance we have displayed by shaming, excluding, explaining away, minimizing, controlling? At the foot of the cross of Jesus, in the stark light of the cross of Jesus, there is no room for it. God has come to us, offering life and community with God and creation, and we have rejected it.
The only ‘how-to’ guide Christians can offer with experience is hammering nails, killing the life of the world. Of course we have something far more than than a ‘how-to’ guide. More properly, it has us. We are held by the mysterious message that God does not reject us back. That “we aren’t half as bad as God is good.” That God will come sit with us in our chairs, however arranged. That God receives death with hope. That all our controlling and shaming can’t stop the living and the growing of God, into which we are invited by the creation and our neighbor on a daily basis.
What would Christianity look like, what would the real assemblies, gatherings of doubters and believers of sinners and saints, that the Holy Spirit calls together – what might they be like, if we stopped with the arrogance and proclaimed the Lord’s death until he comes?
In our failure and success, in our living and our dying, we belong to God.