In light of the various narratives about why people are leaving or should leave the Presbyterian Church (USA), I recently posed the question, Why do you choose to stay in the Presbyterian Church (USA)? Here is one more person sharing why they are staying in the Presbyterian Church (USA) . . .
Why do you choose to stay in the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
I grew up in a faith community context where I heard regularly that the good news embodied and proclaimed by Jesus is ‘countercultural’. And in its deepest essence, it truly is. It is a call to stand for all that gives hope and love and life, and stand against all that seeks to diminish these great gifts for individuals, communities, and all of creation.
Of course, in my youth, ‘countercultural’ was usually code for ‘don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t chew or go with girls/guys who do’. It meant to be ‘in the world and not of the world’ (mostly by listening only to ‘christian’ music, spending time only at church and with your ‘christian’ friends, and only drinking milk from a ‘christian’ cow). It was a call to stand against everything in our ‘secular’ culture that sought to serve desires and interests of the self first and foremost.
But I sense that living in response to a call that is ‘countercultural’ looks very different nowadays.
In a society where argumentative conflict and opinionated rhetoric seems to rule the day, to be an individual or community that chooses to embody articulate conversation and open-minded relationship is to carve a unique and powerful niche that can have far-reaching and multi-faceted impact. Being a person or people who seeks to incarnate unity without unanimity and diversity without divisiveness – and to intentionally strive to live in the inherent tension that a polarizing and fragmented society seeks to neutralize and even eliminate – is the most ‘countercultural’ witness possible in our world.
To be honest, if there was a way that i could do what i believe God has gifted and placed me on earth to do that didn’t involve ‘managing a religious institution’, i would jump at the chance. But it seems that part of the ‘divine comedy’ of my life includes the call to remain in that organization that is more at heart an organism (the ‘Body’ of Christ), and to serve together with those who reflect the baffling beauty and delirious diversity of our Creator…disagreeing agreeably (as best as we can), unified less by ideology and religion and more by incarnation and relationship, and empowered less by ‘sanctity’ and more by Spirit.
It’s the church that still welcomes a ‘paradoxical pastor’ like me. It’s the church with whom i will continue to serve and grow, the broken and blessed ‘band of misfits’ who will continue to embody the ‘foolishness’ of Jesus that invites a disconnected and disintegrating human family to the same great Party.