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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Lone Sinner

When someone posted this link on Facebook the other days, I made a rather snide quip…

To translate Mr. Mumford: "I want to be in a church where I'm the only jerk."

I was being less than charitable to Mr. Mumford, but the overall gist of his argument is precisely that: I love Jesus who loves me, the sinner, but I don’t love Christians who fall short and sin.

Never mind that Mr. Mumford has forgotten that liking Jesus is not what He called people to do.  He called them to love one another.

Jesus does not establish a series of parallel relationships, He established a Church, which He calls His ‘Body.’  Now, you may wonder why I’m posting this on a blog about recovery, and here’s why: there are an awful lot of Marcus Mumfords that fail at sobriety because they don’t want to be around all those addicts.

Yes, meetings can often be annoying.  Yes, they can be full of people who are deluded and demanding and selfish and stupid… just like me.

That’s the problem: Mr. Mumford can’t identify with ‘Christians’ because they annoy and embarrass him, never thinking that someone else might be complete sick to death of him and his pretentious judgment.  Now, I am willing to cut him a break, as he was raised by parents coming from the Vineyard Movement, which I experienced first-hand when I started ‘experimenting’ with Christianity.  I ran out the door when I found the Orthodox Church and never looked back at great deal of the weirdness there.  Mr. Mumford and I would probably agree on lots of things like that.

What I disagree with is his willingness to trim off all the bits of the Gospel he doesn’t like because of his bad experiences in a limited context.  Now, he has settled into the soft easy-chair of fame and wealth, and so he doesn’t have much of a reason to explore, eh?  We’ll see where he is 30 years from now.

But, if you are going to find God or recover from addiction, then you have to come to terms with something: other people had God before you did.  And, yes, they are the ones God has chosen to give Himself to you. 

You didn’t write the Bible or the Big Book.  You did not invent the name ‘God.’  Those all come from somewhere else, and get passed to you from a bunch of people that have profound flaws.  Go back and read the Old Testament: the screw-ups started with Adam and then got worse.  Adam had an excuse: he had no idea what he had gotten himself into… but his sons never learned from his mistakes.

Marcus Mumford represents the new generation of ‘special kids’ who benefit from their parents largess and yet flunk every measure of gratitude or even human compassion.  Sure, his heart may hurt for the ‘poor’ and ‘needy,’ but not the Christian.  Nope, those guys stink and I’m standing nowhere near them and getting my lily-white ego soiled.

Being in the Church, just like being in an AA group, is risky business.  People will judge us and will be inconsiderate and even say hurtful or stupid things.  And, yes, you can avoid all those hassles by staying home, but then again you won’t experience God because both the Christian God and the AA Higher Power share the same definition of divine experience through belonging to the group and helping its members by identifying with them.

Mr. Mumford is correct: he is no Christian.  Christians ought not condemn and thus reject one another.  The sad thing is that he does not understand that his own aloofness is a rejection of the Gospel that calls Christians to be united in love to one another... a commandment from the Jesus that he says he identifies with.  You can’t say that you love God while refusing to identify with others who say the same thing.

And, let me be perfectly clear: I don’t look down on non-Christians… I was raised as one.  But, I will say that if you are going to appreciate Him, you must accept Him completely on His own terms, not conditions you make up.  After all, that’s what reality is all about.  You have to accept all of it, otherwise you are in fantasy land.

When you step back and look at the entire Tradition from the Old Testament to the New, it is the story of a people.  People are part of the package, both in Christianity and in recovery.  We need one another, especially those we identify with through the same beliefs and experiences.

We need one another because our own heads lie to us.  We get strange ideas that lead us to bad decisions and real wounds.  Others can help us avoid making big mistakes, and can pull us out when we have fallen.  This is what the Church does for its members, and the group likewise.

To be the Lone Sinner is to be a on a dangerous and solemn path.  And, it is not a path to God, but a path to the self apart from Him.

1 comment:

  1. Mr.Mumford has taken Christianity hostage, but the gun is pointed at his own head.