Of course there are good and bad ways for the church to go crazy. The good way is when we are so crazy in love with Jesus that we are willing to do anything to further his cause to get everyone safely home to him and his family. That is crazy love and all of us, and all of the unreached would be well served if we got that kind of crazy. What I’m thinking about today is not that kind of crazy. I’m thinking about bad crazy.
It can happen in churches and many times does. Good people get side tracked into bad ideas and bad ways of behaving. But I’m not even going there today.
I’m going to how the church seems to go crazy in forms beyond the local church. I’m thinking here about structures like districts, annual conferences and demoninations. The tendency is for those levels of the church to become corporate in nature, and not in the biblical sense. Those levels of the church become corporate in the business sense of doing whatever is necessary to preserve their existence. I’ve experienced this first hand several years ago when I was falsely accused ( the judge agreed and threw the case out with prejudice). The church at the conference and denominational level engaged in all kind of crazy thinking and acting, all for the purpose of being sure they were protected from me. I was suddenly not a brother, but a threat; I was not a person but a problem. If I went down, I might take the whole ship down with me.
That’s on my mind today because I got a call from someone who wants to talk with me about the same kind of thing happening to them. This person feels like they have to come to me in total secrecy because if “they” found out it would be hell to pay. Sad, but I do understand what they are talking about; I do understand that the fear is real, and rational.
C.S. Lewis wrote a science fiction trilogy called the Perelandra series. The middle book is called That Hideous Strength. It’s all about how a university becomes willing to do all kinds of crazy things to protect it’s image, standing and existence. Lewis seems to think that people and groups whose primary loyalty is to an institution become pawns and servants of the institution no matter how much or how passionately they continue to mouth the virtues of freedom and brotherhood. I think the same. C.S. Lewis thinks that people who give themselves to the “corporation” become extensions of it. A corporation has a spirit of it’s own and is only at the end of the day bent on serving itself. I think the same thing.
As long as everybody plays along nobody gets hurt. But whenever someone threatens the union by speaking up against unjust practices or unfair decisions or points out that what is being done is not faithful to the Lord, that someone had better beware.
It’s not just paranoia and cynicism that’s speaking here. It’s a basic tenet of family systems theory that those in the family tend to act according to the roles assigned to them by the family. In a corporate size “family” the same principle applies. In one of Friedman’s (the founder of family systems) fables he tells of an algae eater who gets tired of eating-well, what algae eaters eat. The algae eater stops and the whole tank gets off kilter. In a short while a giant hand removes the algae eater and another one is put in the tank, and all gets back to normal. What he’s illustrating is that if someone does not please the spirit of a corporate sized group, that spirit will punish, remove and perhaps even crucify that one, and replace them with someone who will play along.
And the values chosen to make those rash moves has nothing to do with the values of our Lord; it has everything to do with preserving the corporation-at all costs. It’s not bad people who do these things. It’s regular people who in giving themselves blindly to the corporation get to acting crazy, and probably don’t even realize it.
And so, when this someone and I meet it will be in secret, and what is said will be kept in confidence. And hopefully together, by God, we can find a way to cut through the craziness, and find some grace.
Knowing the spirit that is most corporations this message will self destruct in 30 seconds. And anyone who forwards this to the powers that be will automatically and instantly be raptured to hell.