So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent – and often even vocal – sanction of things as they are. But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.
This is something that could have been written yesterday.
But as you can tell by the “twentieth century” reference, it was written before 2000.
In fact it was written in 1963 by Martin Luther King, Jr. Sadly, 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Jim Crow laws were still in effect, preventing people of color from being treated equally under the law.
So often, the church is surprisingly silent on social issues – which is odd when Jesus spent so much time talking about love, and stressing the importance on how we treat each other.
Of course, some say, “look how far we’ve come 50 years later.” But progress is still slow. Heck, even in the 2012 election, people tried to suppress minority voting in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida. Anyone who suggests that racism and equal rights for all isn’t a problem has their head in the sand. When a white man murders children in a school, church people rally around gun rights and want to arm kindergarten teachers. But when a white man kills a black teenager in cold blood, no one went on a crusade to help get guns in the hands of young black men so that they could defend themselves against racists.
And we must avoid the racism that ignores generational poverty and states that if I was raised middle class, that someone raised in a poor environment has the exact same opportunities as I do. (We hear this all the time – even at church – that the poor in America are poor because they are lazy. We do not like to think that there different people in our country are afforded different opportunities.)
The church needs to forget about trying so hard to defend the status quo – we need to get off our asses and truly make a difference in this world. It’s going to take a lot of work, but I think we can do it. I think Jesus would want us to.