Two words for my fellow Progressive Christians: Stop Hiding.
I know you don’t want to be associated with door-knocking, salvation-sharing, “washed-in-the-blood” proselytizing. You don’t want to talk about what you believe in public or even with your family or church. You’re afraid that you might be accused of not knowing enough about your faith or the Bible. You’re terrified that you might have to confess that sometimes you have doubts. You might say out loud that God seems absent when the weight of the world comes down on your shoulders. You might witness to the fact that you don’t always know what Jesus would have you do. You don’t even want to remind yourself that this life of faith is full of far more questions than answers.
As a card-carrying progressive Christian and ordained clergy in the United Church of Christ, I’m stoked about the splash my denomination made in the news this week. On Monday, April 28, 2014, the UCC was the lead plaintiff in a case that asserts that a North Carolina law that threatens clergy with fines and jail time if they perform a wedding ceremony absent a legal marriage license is a violation of religious rights. In other words, the denomination is siding with couples and clergy persons in North Carolina who want to participate in a same-gender marriage in their own church without the privilege of a legal marriage license. (North Carolina law defines marriage as between one man and one woman. The United Church of Christ allows clergy to perform same-gender weddings.)
What is even more important to me than the secular assertion of religious freedom is the bold proclamation that our Christian faith is one of inclusion, not exclusion; a faith of radical welcome, not alienation; a faith that sides with the underdog, the oppressed, not with the principles and powers. Jesus sat around and ate with the excluded — women, the poor, the sick, the tax collectors. His first disciples were a bunch of hapless low-class laborers. HE was a low-class laborer. Still, he boldly entered the temple, shocked the elders with his teachings and knowledge of the Torah. He offended those same leaders and Roman authorities when he pointed toward what those teachings really meant for revolutionary day-to-day living.
Research studies have shown that young people aren’t leaving the church because of Jesus. They are leaving the church because they don’t see enough Jesus in the church. Let’s brings some Jesus back to our churches. Progressive Christians, in this glorious season of Eastertide, I beg you to roll back that giant, heavy stone, open your eyes, defy death and get your a** out of the tomb, and come back from the dead. Jesus — a common, poor, laborer who died a shameful, horrible death — DID. And the world’s never been the same.
How can you boldly transform the world with your faith?