Over the past couple of weeks I have read or listened to paradoxical stories. On the one hand I have read how some have been treated in the Church. By “in the Church” I mean to say there are some who are “in the Church” who treat others “in the Church” poorly. Our way of using language tends to suggest “the Church” treated them poorly. Now I realize for some this will be a semantic game. To those I would simply appeal to wanting to invoke a different language for the narrative thereby placing the events squarely on fallible people who tend to inhabit the Church.
On the other hand I have listened as one young lady described how those in her Christian community of faith had opened up new vistas of opportunity allowing her to follow the call to action she hears from the Spirit. In this and other instances it appears those “in the Church” practice the grace and mercy we all hope would be “the Church’s” characteristic feature.
In both cases we must place the actions where they belong. Either people faithful to the way of Jesus offer mercy and grace or they do not. Rather than impugn “the Church” it would be far better to suggest those whose lives and actions do not comport with the mystery of grace and mercy found in Jesus bear the brunt of our indignities rather than summarily dismissing “the Church.”
In some parallel way we could conjure the conversations going on in American politics. We can say that America invaded a country in pre-emptive move of aggression or we can say there seemed, at the time, to be cause for concern over the tacit approval if not outright engagement with terrorist organizations. This seems to be the polarity of the left and the right in the matter. No one group would like to be singled out as though they were the other. So, we would say it was not America for many in America did not nor would want to have led such an action. Yes, we suffer the indignities from other countries but many resist wearing the blame.
If in politics some may say they showed a continued lack of support for such a move and do not want to be lumped in with “that” group who led the way, those of us in “the Church” should be allowed the same move. That is, to say we are as appalled at un-grace as the next person. But, we do not want our Christian community of faith impugned and maligned because some in another place could not, would not, bear witness to the grace and mercy of Jesus with those “in their” fellowship.
I have long followed Emily and Ronnie’s journey. I am saddened for them. I am hopeful that though shaken they see the witness of Jesus’ grace and mercy in others, though they could not see it in this instance. There are others stories to which I did not link. You know many more than that. The call for we who are hope-filled is to bear witness to the grace and mercy of Jesus and stand for such at every turn.