Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cult of Comfort vs. Kingdom Reflection

Of the many idols Americans and American Christians worship (money, "success," sex, to name a few) there exists also the reality of the cult of comfort. This doctrine of safety, this assumption of ease, is transmitted almost subliminally into our souls as an entitlement that accompanies American citizenship and participation in a free market economy. It communicates deservedness. It communicates worthiness. We proudly affirm our right to quality service from the restaurant on the corner. We would promptly exit the theater of a film that dissatisfied us and demand our money be reimbursed. We gladly pay exorbitant amounts of money to travel with all the luxuries of modern, Western life. We simply cannot be inconvenienced in any way. Our comfort takes precedence above all else. God forbid we should have to endure, suffer, sacrifice in any way!

It is then no surprise we carry into our churches these attitudes. Consumerism and criticism govern our perception of a church's value. We judge the church as if it were a cruise. What amenities does it provide? Does it have more or less than its competitors? What is the cost/benefit ratio? How is the quality of service? Will i be entertained? Will i be required to do anything?

In particular, i am saddened and disgusted by the impediment our cult of comfort is to our effectiveness at embodying and reflecting the Kingdom of God on earth. While the throne-room of God is filled with an innumerable multitude representing all the diverse, beautiful, cultural expressions of humanity unified in worship of the Lamb, our churches are characterized by the ubiquitous, systemic American racism thats chief end is the securing of comfort for the now minority white, anglo-saxon, Protestant culture.

Churches are now drawn to a model of ministry that divides congregations, often meeting in the same facility, along lines of language and culture. How can we proclaim with integrity that we are the eschatological community of Christ while we reject the cultural unity and diversity depicted in heaven? How can we invite the non-believer to accept the apostle John's vision of heaven along-side our presentation of those who will make up its congregation? Will the various tribes and tongues who make up the great multitude worship the Lamb in different compartments of the throne-room or at different times of eternity? Certainly we dont expect the non-believer to accept that we, who refuse to worship along-side fellow redeemed ones of differing cultures on earth, comprise those who cause that scene to be a reality in God's presence, do we?

It is comfort that drives a wedge between us and those of our like, precious faith from differing cultures. We resist any setting where we will be expected to agree internally with worshipful and prayerful sentiments we cannot audibly understand. Such acts of humility call into service a type of commitment to others that few are willing to make. It requires a heart that will put aside what is familiar to it for what is unfamiliar. It requires a heart that is willing to trust an expression of worship that comes from a different direction than where they are accustomed.

Be sure not to mistake what i am describing as politically correct multiculturalism. Such a misunderstanding is rooted in reactionary Fundamentalism that secretly seeks to preserve the white, Anglo-saxon, Protestant investment in Modernism. I do not propose enforcing equal representation upon an unequal congregation. I do not propose manufactured, artificial multiculturalism. I propose authentic, Christ-like, Spirit-empowered, Kingdom-building, God-honoring, people-valuing!

Reject comfort at the expense of discipleship! Resolve to deliberately reflect Kingdom fruition!


dave said...

Costly Grace brotha!!! Preach it!

Rod said...

Keep up the good work, T.C.! I like what I am reading.