One of the benefits of the Christian Church in the world, or
a benefit that we should provide but in these days often don’t, is that we call
society and culture to higher standards of discourse, politics, education,
ethics, and culture, and call individuals to their better selves. God desires us to live life to the full – in
sane, healthy, altruistic, and responsible ways that are beneficial to not only
ourselves, but to all of society.
In times past, if people wanted to be educated they went to
the Church. If you wanted to be cultured, you came to the Church. If someone wanted to help “the least of
these,” s/he went to the Church.
Not so much, anymore. And, of
course, there are plenty of examples throughout history where the leadership of
the Church exploited, tortured, killed, maimed, impoverished, etc., people and
societies. Yet, the negative exploits of
those who used (and continue to use) religion for their own gain does not
diminish what the Church is supposed to be and do and what we as Christians are
called to be and do.
In these days, we tend to align ourselves with the
prevailing culture that too often wants to dumb things down – because that is
what people in the general culture have come to expect. The banal, the lowest
common denominator, the most profane or perverse, the most demeaning, the most
dictatorial, the most arrogant, the most selfish, and so forth, has become the
norm. We make little effort to truly teach
and to call people to move beyond and above the crass, sterile, and
manipulative norm that invades all of life.
The perception many younger people have of the Church is that it is just
yet another cooped institution or group of people that wallow in the cultural
morass and that offers no real escape and alternative way forward.
As a Christian, I take upon myself to be educated, to seek
understanding and wisdom, to be forgiving, to be giving of myself, to be
respectful, to love beauty, peace, and freedom. I also understand that in order
to do all of this in God’s economy of things, my first and primary motivation
and goal is to love God with all of myself – my intentions, my devotions, my
perceptions, and my thoughts. It is tough to do in our culture, but we in the
Church must stop giving into or aiding the dumping down of everything.