Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Breaking out

"I learned in confirmation classes about the fiery beginnings op the Methodist Church and its signature symbol of the cross wrapped in the flame of the Spirit. Where had the fire gone? I learned about John Wesley, who said that if they didn't kick him out of town after he spoke, he wondered if he had really preached the gospel. I remember Wesley's old saying, "If I should die with more than ten pounds, may every man call me a liar and a thief," for he would have betrayed the gospel. Then I watched as one of the Methodist congregations I attended built a $120 000 stained-glassed window. I stared at that window...longing for Jesus to break out of it, to free himself, to come to rise from the dead...again." (taking form Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne, page 43)

Christianity in the rich suburbs of Jozi is a dangerous activity. Before you know it it can get you into a lot of trouble. Around here, as in most rich areas around the world, life and faith tend revolve around stuff. And stuff tend to revolve around money.

Last night we looked at our church's monthly budget. It's probably more than the collective earnings of most poor communities around our suburb.

Being rich and a follower of Jesus is a tough tension to balance.

Mostly I find it's easier to ignore Jesus and just try to be a good, civilized modern human being, it goes down well in church, cause mostly people relate that type of living to Christianity.

But since I have encoutered the Ordinary Radicals of The Simple Way and the way Shane tells their story, I was forced to take another look at Christianity, but this time with Jesus.

Now, all I see is stained glass windows I long for Jesus to break out of.

How did we end up like this? How did the church move from a Way to a Religion, from a community of nobodies to an exclusive club of lookalikes?

We need a new kind of ressurection again, then hopefully all we'll see and hear is the shattering of glass.


Reenen said...

It happened because Christianity became profitable.

In much the same way that the Catholic Church took money way back when (or not so way back?). Or when a church promises you healing or abundance of wealth etc.

The people who profit realise that the more you put Jesus and religion in the box, the more you can get the money coming.

Recently I had a discussion on this. Where is the lines? How much of the Kingdom of God should be free?

A harder question than I thought initially. Free sounds awesome --- and theologically perfect! But who pays for the guitar that plays in the band? Or the microphones, or the minister's salary?

Fourie Rossouw said...

Great comment Reenen. So true about putting God in a box, very convenient and much more easy for the marketing guys and girls of the church (evangelize?)!

I think the end in mind is not atheology of poverty vs theology of whealth (Shane picks up on this later on in the book), but rather a Way of being human in community with others, where love overcomes the power that money has over us. It's not about being poor or rich, but about sharing and caring, living interdependently of each other.