Labels are ridiculous things.
They push up the price and they make clothes more difficult to iron.
They also stop people from thinking for themselves.
I have been thinking a lot recently about the “ideal Church”. What would it look like? Who would be its members?
There appears to be a paradox in Christianity at first glance. We are told that our faith makes us fully who we are, yet often individual expression is frowned upon.It happens on all fronts, whether you are “liberal” or “conservative” or “whatever”.
Take a label like “Worship Music” – As Christians, we tend to accept that it is what it is and there is a certain sound to it and a certain way to play it. Who said that that was the case? Who decreed that henceforth all Christian songs shall be of the progression G,Em,C2,D ?
Who decreed that we shall repeat the chorus twenty times with more and more fervour each time?
Who said there should be a lull midway through where the “worship leader” can interject an emotive prayer?
Why should I like that kind of music? Why should I? Because I am Christian???
This ethos extends to bigger issues; That there are certain ways to act about particular topics.
Any choice to act contrary to the “done way” is seen as a rejection of the actual teaching.
“Hey come and stand on the corner with our anti-rhubarb pie pickets!”
“You are anti-rhubarb pie aren’t you?”
“Great! Come along!”
If I don’t want to picket rhubarb pie, does that exclude me from the club? Am I somehow less committed? Who decided that picketing on the corner was the best approach anyway? Sure, someone did, somewhere down the line but since then no one else has bothered questioning the status quo. “It’s just how it’s done.”
Okay, I know I am generalising and exaggerating. But I am doing so for effect.
The question is, what does a Christian look like? Hopefully, themselves.
We don’t sign away our personalities at our baptism. Sure, we put on Christ, we change our lives and our priorities, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be who we are. I believe that at our cores, we are good, we are made in the image and likeness of God. After we were created, God saw that all creation was very good. I feel quite convicted that our belief in God should draw out our uniqueness, draw out who we were created to be. It should not conform us to a box. There is no Christian box.
My friend pointed something out to me recently which took me by surprise. I was essentially telling him everything I have just written above and he responded, “I don’t want my Church to conform to me. It should challenge me.”
It was that comment that prompted me to write this post. He is of course, spot on.
At the crux of this debate is, what is the purpose of Church? To bring together believers? To praise and glorify God? To have communion with God?
Perhaps there is a clue in the final words of the Mass. “The Mass has ended, go forth to love and to serve the Lord.” To which we respond, “Thanks be to God!”
My challenge is to stop being so focused on the inward functioning’s and dynamic of the Church and to flipping get out into the field and make a difference in other people’s lives.
My prayer is that we, I, may let go of my preconceptions of how a Christian should be and rather let my heart be led by love.
Perhaps the inverse argument is true… Perhaps when I can embrace all variations of the Christian expression, rather than expect Church to embrace me, perhaps then we have the beginnings of a truly Catholic Church.