Monday, March 12, 2007
Change, Crisis, and Transformation
A friend of mine asked me the other day why I didn’t dress “like a preacher” during the week. When I asked him how a preacher was supposed to dress, he said, “Well, I guess I’ve never really thought about it.” That got me to thinking how much clerical dress has changed throughout history. Clergy and monastics in Russia, Greece, and other Orthodox countries almost always sport long hair and beards, citing scripture from Leviticus 19.27: “You shall not make a round cutting of the hair of your head, nor disfigure your beard.” Today, clergy wear collars, polo shirts, oxford shirts with or without ties, suits with ties or without, beards or clean-shaven. In the case of women clergy, make-up or no make-up, pants or skirts, pant suits or dresses. I don’t wear a beard during basketball season because of officiating dress codes. I grow it back when basketball season is over because my wife likes it and it saves me time in the morning.
I doubt that any of the above has anything to do with the state of the church. Fashions change.
When it comes to “what’s wrong with the Church,” the reasons given have changed as much as the clothing styles for lay and clergy alike. Today, we blame the current state of the Church on sex, music, and “the way kids are being brought up.”
I'll bet that excuse has been around a while.
Homosexuality and sex in general gets more press when it comes to the Church than anything else. In my opinion, it’s no help: it’s idolatry, pure and simple. Just a subset of much bigger and greater problems.
What’s wrong with the Church? I think the answer is simple: we’re failing to make disciples. That takes work. That takes a willingness to get personal. It means being transparent, baring our souls, giving up our comforts and what we like, and yielding instead to the mind and way of Christ.
We must quit majoring in the minors and instead worry about the things Jesus worried about. Dress? Jesus wore sandals. Sex? Jesus said very little about it. Money? Jesus said LOTS about it – its use and its abuse. Outcasts? Jesus didn’t turn them away; he ate with them (and as a result was accused of being a glutton and a drunk). Saving souls? It was his top priority to redeem and transform all God’s children. There were no lost causes to him; he loved everyone he met unconditionally. Those who met Him found their salvation by their belief.
Today, those who meet Him find their salvation by their belief. Are we willing to introduce Him to others? Or just blame sex, music, and the way kids are brought up?
Don Shula, famous football coach, said this: “The superior man blames himself. The inferior man blames others.”
That might hold true for Christians.