I am beginning to believe there is an inherent conflict between church and Gospel.
Most of us who belong to or who participate in a church describe it as a community.
We know who is there.
They know us.
It is comforting and supportive and encouraging, and sometimes even challenging.
But even when it is challenging we find a sense of stability there.
Familiar rituals and symbols.
Because of that, even with all of the outreach, mission, social justice efforts in which congregations are involved, churches basically face inward. We are there because we like and care for the others who are there, and we are there because of what it adds to our own lives.
On the other hand Gospel – the good news about which Jesus spoke – is a bit rough around the edges. It was then and it is now.
Gospel is primarily concerned with those on the edges.
With those out there.
Those on the outside and not the inside.
(At least that is how I read the Gospels)
And, it is about the Dream of God which envisions where they live and where we live becoming overlapping circles.
And, that I think is uncomfortable.
Many in our culture, especially those who are younger than I am, don’t understand church because they stand on the outside looking in. We might tell them about all we do and why our community is important, but never having been on the inside they don’t get what we are trying to say. But, while church does not interest them, I wonder if they are looking for, even longing for Gospel.
Looking at the world in which they live and longing for something more.
Looking at their lives and seeking something deeper.
Something that matters.
Something that makes a difference.
Something that may look and be very different than the church I have known.