‘this is my church,’ she said vehemently. ‘i come here when i feel like it. and the last time i did… i think it was some two months ago, there was a woman preaching, and i do not like churches where the women are in the leadership. and she did not speak with he feeling,either, i would have expected from a woman and a mother. and i do not like churches where the women preach. i like men in the pulpit, whatever they say. men are more acceptable to me.’
‘and what have you done to make it more so in this church you call yours?’ i asked.
‘oh, that is not my responsibility. this is my church,’ she said,’but i do not feel like bringing people here. i just come when i feel like it. anyway, my opinion is that you are doing it all wrong. nothing is the way i have imagined. so i go where i feel like – here or there, i am a free person, after all.’
‘i am tired of this,’ i said. ‘tired of this… instability, ephemerity, unwillingness to take responsibility.’
‘oh, is that the time already,’ she said. ‘really, i must go. see you sometime.’ and so she left.
something in all this seemed wrong, very much off the point. i felt hurt, but could not put my finger on what was wrong with the expression this is my church, because this was/is my church, too.
later, at night, a flash of understanding, peace and joy washed over me: i was wrong to say what i did. i was wrong to feel hurt, because this is also my church, and those expressions were intended to hurt.
because this is not my church. this church is Christ’s church, it is God’s church. his building, where the living stones are joined together in his holy spirit.
and i am one of the stones, not the owner, not the architect, not even the builder of the edifice.
when i say, i am the owner of this church, i put myself in the place of Christ, become a mini-deity, ultimately, an εἴδωλον, and idol. there are true είδωλα and false ones. there are the building blocks and builders, the harvest workers and the lord of the harvest. each has their place, and each place must be right.
as a true εἴδωλον, image of Christ, i am called to all things constructional and constructive – to love, and forgiveness, and showing him to those who do not know him, or do not know him that well. i am there to point to Christ, and what he did to save each person from a fate worse than death. in a way, my task is very much that of a very good picture of a place, inviting people to wish, to desire, to crave to go there, to experience that beauty and presence themselves, in reality. this way, the sentence ‘i do not feel like bringing people here’ is quite wrong. what does the practising christian have to hide in the church they call their own? who does the practising christian have to point to, if not Christ? i will leave the questions rhetorically open.
as a false εἴδωλον, of course, the building block thinks they are the builder, the worker of the harvest thinks they are the lord of the harvest, and the churchgoer becomes quite territorial about who to let and who not to, in their sacred space. thus, the churchgoer, instead of imitating Christ, becomes a deity, a false εἴδωλον to be worshipped on their holy ground.
this also contaminates the holy ground itself. ‘this is my church’ is exclusive rather than inclusive. it is a church of imagination, of ‘what could be’, or worse, ‘should be’ – and as such has little to do with the real, living people who also happen to walk on that soddy ground. actually, the living people tend to somehow diminish the holiness of this church of imagination, they are not quite obedient to the whims and imaginings of the fledgeling deity.
on the other hand, if ‘this is my church’, i am responsible for what happens and what fails to happen there. this is the main job of a deity – to be responsible for the world they have created, or the aspect of the world they represent. ‘this is my church’ means that all the good things are mine, and i can be proud of that. it also means that all the hurtful things people say are mine, and i am killed by those. given that people do tend to say hurtful things more than the praise things, guess what? i get to be killed more than i get to be proud. rotten, that.
to sum it all up, whilst the church members think of the church as their private territory, as something they own, control and somehow possess, they are possessed by the territory, not the living spirit of God. they practise a subtle form of idolatry. and this idolatry brings forth its fruit. death.
the peace of Christ, and a certain form of vulnerable invulnerability come with a realisation that it is Christ’s church, visible and invisible that one invites people to. it is Jesus who is responsible for putting the living stone in its proper place, and bonding in in place with the mortar of his Spirit. when the worker of the harvest heeds the commands of the Lord of the harvest, all becomes timely and all becomes organised.
and all the offensive territorialism is left to God who can handle it best.