There is much I don’t like about the institutional church, and I don’t just mean that I’d prefer it to take a different shape. Theologically, I disagree with its structure and focus. I don’t think the form of it I have known looks or thinks like Jesus. I’ve watched leaders consistently try to force Jesus thinking into it. It’s like watching them try to turn a lumbering elephant. The very fact that it is an institution pushes against the upsidedown worldview of Christ. The two things are only painfully compatible.
At the same time, I recognize my understanding of Christ has come from within the institution. I am who I am and see the world as I do in part because I have been a member of this institution for my entire life.
The conflict between my criticisms of the institution and my indebtedness to it create a strang tension within me. Neither feelings can be ignored, and yet, they are like magnets of the same polarity, pushing apart from one another.
The institutional church isn’t the only thing that causes this tension in me.
I feel it when I consider politics. In my younger years, I was a dedicated Republican, but then I lived in the inner city and worked amongst the homeless.
I feel it when I’m around my mentors. I unfairly placed them on a pedestal they were bound to slip off of.
I feel it at work. I want so much to change, but realize I don’t deserve the job I have.
And I wonder, is this tension I feel with the people and places that raised me unique?
Or is it just part of growing up?