Friday, August 3, 2012

What makes 'us' different? A ChickFilA Response

One of the great criticisms of modern Christianity is that we don't live differently from anyone else.
Rev. Bob Farr, Renovate or Die
It's a common thought today amongst those that don't belong to a Christian faith community.  Why choose the church?  Why choose Jesus?

I posted the above quote from Renovate or Die, a book I'm working through, on Facebook and the first immediate response I received was:
What makes 'us' [the Body of Christ] different from anyone else?
It's a great, and important question.  My response:
Our intentional love and care for one another is supposed to set us apart ... And a faith that calls us to strive towards something larger, and show a love that calls others to travel on the journey with us. Radical hospitality not radical judgement is what defined Christ's ministry. Unfortunately the line between the two has gotten super blurry.
I think questioning why people, especially the unchurched, would choose to follow Christ is especially relevant given the hot topic for this week: the politics of ChickFilA.  What would Jesus do in this situation?  Stand with the LGBTQ Community and their Allies?  Or would he stand with the CEO of ChickFilA?  There's a whole lot of gray here when everybody wants to make something black and white.  Jesus might have something relevant to say in these matters.

As soon as Jesus decided to kick-off his earthly ministry, it was off to the races from the word, "Go".  For three years he didn't really stop moving and doing ministry for and with the poorest of the poor.  He spent most of his time ministering to those on the fringes, the poor and the sick, as well as the villains of the time like the tax collectors. 

Because the educated establishment of the time didn't care for Christ's methods (the might have accepted him as Messiah if he'd just quit being so radical), they constantly followed him around and asked him questions with the intent to trick him.  In one such circumstance we get a very important response from the Prince of Peace, found in the 22nd Chapter of Matthew:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had left the Sadducees speechless, they met together.  One of them, a legal expert, tested him.  "Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
He replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  You must love your neighbor as you love yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands." (CEB)
Christ adds no qualification to the term "neighbor".  A neighbor is just a fellow person.  And we know from his track record that he had a heart especially for the poor and disenfranchised. 

So, how do we apply these commandments to our ChickFilA situation?  Do we support a boycott?  Or do we support events like ChickFilA Appreciation Day?  Or how about this?

What would I like to see?

I know it's radical, but I would like to see members of the LGBTQ Community and their Allies march on ChickFilA franchises ... And ... Eat there.  We need to realize that while many of us have problems with the documented stances that the ChickFilA corporate office has taken with regard to 'loving their neighbors', the local franchise partners of ChickFilA and their staffs have nothing to do with that.  If ChickFilA is shut down, it's those jobs that are hurt.

I could get mad at ChickFilA, I'm certainly dissapointed with what I think is a horrible stance at the corporate level, but what if my wife and I showed up with a rainbow button on with a bunch of friends and said, "You may not love the people that I love, but you're my neighbor and I'll love you anyway."

Maybe I'm an idealist. 

What would the unchurched say of the church's actions on August 1st?  Would that compel someone to join the Body?  Forget thinking of the church as a building - the church is the People of Christ and the purpose of the Body is to grow the Body.  Where Christ worked so hard to tear down veils and walls, we end up building them back up, higher and higher.  Am I one that's building up those walls of division?  No.  But unfortunately the inclusive witness I and others want to proclaim is drowned-out by a Gospel of Exclusion.

Because it's Christians, very loud Christians, who have taken a stance on exclusion, and like it or not, one Christian often ends up speaking for the whole.  A loving witness trumped by one that isn't.

People say, "Love the sinner, hate the sin."  As I interpret the word, ChickFilA is on the wrong side.  But I have to love them and their people into a better way.  I think this has now become a question of evangelism.  Everything we as Christians do does matter to the world looking on. 

So, how are we [Christians] different?