Ain’t the Church the People?

I began today with a post addressing the most recent blow up in Black Christendom. LeAndria Johnson is currently feeling scrutiny and blow back for an incident of being ignored or overlooked by Bishop Marvin Winans. She got on her Facebook Live feed and expressed her disgust and anger with the church, church politics, and Bishop Winans. Since that outburst, LeAndria has issued an apology for her statements.

I have watched as many people have taken to social media and other platforms to express their thoughts on the matter. What could have been an opportunity for introspection has turned into another moment for mockery, self-righteousness, and hyper defensiveness.

When I read scripture, I am challenged daily to assess my walk and actions with all people. The Word gives me a guidepost that holds me accountable for the type of human being I am among the 7 billion people in the global community.

Yes, I do not have perfect days. Times come when I am not my best. Nevertheless, the pursuit of being a better person is a daily goal and task. I must grow. I must learn. I must represent the best of the Christ I say I follow. I know many people that have the same mentality when it comes their faith walk. People are striving to be their absolute best. Yet, we fall short. When that happens, we must step back and say, “I must get better”.

Basic human interaction states that if someone says “hello”, you respond. If for some reason you missed the opportunity, find the opportunity to apologize for the oversight. Why take the time? It demonstrates your interest in the individual (their feelings, state of mind, etc). Instead the person who expresses their initial angst is ridiculed.

So we get up in arms about the institution called the church being dragged through the mud. But brothers and sisters, help me answer this query of mine. Ain’t the people of God the church? The answer according to Baptist ordination is that the church is a group of baptized believers. Which leads me to a great question. When did we move from organism to institution?

The very nature of the criticism that comes toward the institution of the church should serve as pause for all of us who are believers. At one time, I would have found myself in the number that would have seen this type of outburst as some spoiled, entitled person getting upset about nothing. Yet prayer, experience, and education has taught me something very different.

People hurt. Hurt is expressed through the lens of my comfort, but the internal realities of the hurting. Therefore, my response as a disciple of Christ is not judge the methodology of the expression of hurt. Rather, I am called to offer space, support, and love to see the hurt party healed.

Remember that story of Jesus healing a lame man at the pool (Mark 5). People always exegete this text a little off. Let me sum this up. Jesus sees a man laying a pool that is said to have healing power. Man has been there for over 30 years. Others got in the pool before him because no one would help him. Jesus sees him. He asks the man if he wants total healing. This point the story gets twisted.

The man explained to Jesus that he had no help. At this point, preachers begin to paint the man in the spot of an excuse maker. Upon second look, the man is expressing his frustration with his initial option of finding healing. He is lamenting about years of being in a place that espoused the concept of wholeness, but he has not experienced that deliverance. Why can you make such a statement? Read how Jesus responds.

Jesus did not condemn the man for his expression. Jesus did not beat up the perspective of this individual’s experience. Jesus did not tell the man to adjust the method and tone of his frustration. Jesus met the need. Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. But that is not the end of this man’s story.

The religious folks so the man in the temple. The man was celebrating his deliverance. Yet, all they worried about was the fact that the man was healed on the Sabbath. They cared more about institutional piety than God healing the inner pain. In the midst of that misguided view, Jesus returns, sees the man, rejoices with him, and encourages him to never look back.

When we are walking with Christ, we are challenged to do more than observe. We must walk with the maligned through to their delivered end. Here is the rub. Most of us do not have the patience or endurance to walk. We are excited about the instantaneous. We flip over a good bump, shout, and holler. However, we bemoan the opportunity to witness real change happen before our eyes.

We (the people) are the church that folks are looking for. We are the church that must daily inspect if we are exhibiting the same energy that Jesus was on. We are the church that are commissioned to go a walk with people. We are the church that are sent to provide a balm of healing. We are the vessels that have the love of God that must penetrate the wounded soul. Shift the conversation. Let’s be the church. Let’s be the introspective witness of the Almighty…