LENT: Week six, Tuesday – Belonging
Early-stage religion is more about belonging and believing than about transformation. When belonging and believing are the primary concerns, people don’t see their need for growth, healing, or basic spiritual curiosity. Once we let the group substitute for an inner life or our own faith journey, all we need to do is “attend.” For several centuries, church has been more a matter of attendance at a service than an observably different lifestyle. Membership requirements and penalties predominated, not the change-your-life message that Jesus so clearly preached.
Membership questions lead to endless arguments about who is in and who is out, who is right and who is wrong, who is worthy of our God, and who is not. Such distinctions appeal to our ego and its need to feel worthy and superior and to be part of a group that defines itself by exclusion. The church ends up a gated country club, giving people a false sense of superiority. This is why Jesus walks to those on the edges: the handicapped, the sinners, the excluded ones.