ECCLESIOLOGICAL ETCHINGS February 1, 2023 I yanked the following off TikTok, though I know many others have used the words.
I’m tired of prequalifying people for love.
In a clear and concise way, this is the frustration at the root of why people are leaving close-minded, guilt-using, shame-employing churches. Simply put, words like "unconditional" or "limitless" are no longer relevant when it comes to love. There are multiple conditions and obvious limits being placed on love in many churches, but what folks don’t seem to grasp is the proverbial slippery slope. If God’s love is bound by our choices, shortcomings, mistakes, or even the narrow-minded judgments of others, then why would we feel any sort of confidence in believing God loves us? We might be able to draw the circle of acceptance with us in the middle, but if the line is constantly in flux, I doubt any of us are ever going to feel at peace.
There is currently a large social media campaign attempting to make Jesus look hip and demonstrate that he loves all types of people. On the surface, it appears very affirming and inclusive, but research has been done showing it was produced by the very churches that are seeing their numbers drop because of their judgmental and guilt-ridden theology. I might be proven wrong, but I think it is a less than honest ploy to get folks back in the door where the message is being softened or spun another way. Yet at the end of the day, there will be more people in counseling because of the spiritual trauma brought on by a message that is entirely dependent on fear, guilt, and shame.
O God of the Welcoming Table, continue to push us as we grow in our understanding of words like unconditional and limitless. And as we better understand the implications of such lofty ideals, we pray for growth in our capacity to personify these Jesus-like attributes. Amen.