THERE’S A MIGHTY revolution going on in churches around the world demonstrating against the bigoted beliefs, distorted teachings, abuse of power and lack of love that has bolted religious shackles onto those who want to follow Christ and experience the fullness of the life he offers, but couldn’t. From fundamental evangelicals to Catholics and all shades in between, people of faith are questioning what has been preached from the pulpit and comparing that with the Gospel message. While many refer to this as “progressive Christianity”, it is in fact a call to return back to Christ, to the simplicity of the life he lived and the profoundness of what authentic Christian living really means.
This movement is breaking down religious barricades and drawing together people of all Christian denominations and many from other faiths in a common cause of experiencing the love of God in all its fullness. Many in the church pews see this as a dangerous move, after all the God they know has been based on their particular brand of “churchianity”, and come hell or high water nothing will change that. Although they may say they accept and love all people, their supposed inclusiveness is soon shown to be shallow and insincere when it comes to acknowledging those who are different, who hold differing beliefs and who would not be welcome in their church and the culture of exclusivity that pervades their congregation.
Ever since I accepted Christ as Saviour I had been looking for him in the many churches I have been in and out of over the decades. I rarely felt that I belonged and once my marriage broke down, that was it as far as church people were concerned—that and the dreadful consequences I was going through as a result of a very abusive childhood and a loveless, supposedly “Christian”, marriage, left me feeling like a leper, a pariah who had no business being in the house of God. I was looking for the Jesus who had offered me his simple invitation to come to him, to learn of him and to find my rest in him, the One who was gentle and humble in heart, and who had promised that his yoke was easy and his burden light (Matthew 11:28-30). I didn’t find Christ, but I did find so much that was anathema to the Gospel message. Eventually I turned my back on the church, and found Christ in all his joyful simplicity in the world around me, in the teachings of many authors who have been on a similar journey of discovery and, most importantly, in a close, precious, intimate relationship with my awesome God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
I had already been trying to understand what authentic Christian living really means and if it actually existed! Now my many questions are being answered. I am excited about this movement towards Christ and the love, grace and mercy he has for all creation. As Rabbi Harold Kushner states: “For the spiritually authentic person, God is real, not a label we brazenly attach to our own wishes and opinions” (Harold S. Kushner, Living a Life that Matters. London: Pan MacMillan, 2001).
Many people are shaking off their outdated religious views with their “own wishes and opinions” and are embracing the reality of the Gospel in ways they have not known before. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all churches could become part of this mighty revolution—I’d like to see that!