Sunday, January 16, 2011

Why is it So Hard?

First a bit of background, then a quick story, and then to the question, "Why is it so doggone hard for a church to follow Jesus??"

My wife and I (Kendra & Joe B) have gotten deeply inolved in sharing Jesus with internet sex-performers in Eastern Europe. Pretty simple really, it's like God just shows us a person, we make friends with them, and we call them to join Jesus in his kingdom movement. In the last year we have gathered, I dunno, maybe a dozen Saints in two cities and about a dozen more curious hangers-on. Twice (Sep '10 & Jan '11) we have traveled to meet these kids face to face and to confirm them in their faith.

The Story:
Part of our work is to conect these kingdom-kids with solid believers and/or churches in their local area. I contacted the leaders of two very good churches I try to partner with in a particular city. I informed them that, for that particular week, I would be traveling without Kendra, but that I would have the assistance of Isabela, a girl who met Jesus during our travels last September. From both churches I received the helpful warning that (a) I imperil my soul by keeping company with Isabela absent my wife, and that (b) it would be frowned on in their communities if we had no chaperon. Naturally, I thanked them and made this request: "Since I am an alien and I cannot bring a chaperon, can you supply a person to accompany us? After all, it's a great opportunity to introduce Isabela to a lady who can shepherd her soul, right?"

So, what was the response? If you guessed "total silence" you guessed right! Now, let me underscore, these are fine people whom I admire and respect. I do not mock them.

Let me summarize this in an unflattering way: They all have time to condemn the mere appearance of a possible, theoretical impropriety. But, among 200 people, they could not muster a single one to satisfy their own mandate, let alone to exploit this juicy ministry opportunity. In contrast, Isabela said "Even if they must imagine I am your 'toy', I will not let you wander around my city without a translator. I am responsible for you." In essence, the pastors demonstrated they cared neither for my peril, nor for our reputation--they did their duty merely by voicing their disapproval. In American we would say  "Their asses were covered."

It was not complicated for Isabela and me...we simply resolved and agreed not to get sexual, and we did not. I didn't go in her apartment. Isa didn't go beyond the hotel lobby. No problems. Maybe it was not we who were in peril of temptation, but someone else after all?

The Question:
So help me out here...why is it so easy for churches, represented by their leaders, to gulp down camels while straining out gnats? What is the root of this deep moral confusion that infects us after we organize ourselves into church communities? In other words, why is it so difficult for churches to follow Jesus?
Joe B