Why my dreams of a transparent church need to change.
"I wish we could see past...."
I wish we could see through gender. That it would be possible to remove the labels, remove the prohibitions, remove the unconscious bias, and just see the people we were made to be. Flaws and all. I'm tired of the gender debates. I'm tired of the not-so-veiled-comments, the disapproving glances, the endless facebook discussions.
I wish we could see through age. That we could remove how age makes us feel, the superiority, the disdain, the fear. Experience comes with age. Novelty comes with youth. Wisdom comes with age. Energy comes with youth. Maybe, just maybe, we need each other.
I wish we could see through colour. That the stereotypes, the biases, the emotions, wouldn't make the equation. That we could withhold judgement, open conversations, and listen for where God is at work.
I wish we could see through a person's past. We all have history. Mine includes poor treatment at the hands of the church like many others, but our history just shows that we are survivors. We've healed, we've offered forgiveness, and we've stepped forward.
Imagine churches full of people who see past these labels, a transparent church. Who sees through gender, age, race, and history, to cooperatively join God on his mission in the world. Jesus welcomed Mary at his feet to learn with his disciples, he welcomed children and young leaders like Timothy were told to set examples despite their age. He welcomed Samaritans, tax collectors and prostitutes.
But he didn't see through them. He saw them, all of them. He valued them. He valued their gender, and encouraged learning. He valued their age, and encouraged leading. He valued their race, and encouraged his mission to the world to grow through them. It was all valuable to Him. He drew near to them, especially when other's didn't. Jesus didn't see through their situation, their oppression, their rejection, he saw it. And he responded with compassion. He didn't use it to justify their exclusion, to sideline them, or minimise their contribution. Actually he used these various traits for his missional purposes.
Unity in Christ isn't the denouncing of our gender, race, or past, its the acceptance of it. Unity is not conformity. The missional church desperately needs us in all of our difference. Jesus brought together a new people for His mission in this world.
As the church, we are called to follow Jesus. So church, let's follow.
Anything else is selling Him short.
"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."