Last week I read section of a book written by Fr. Dale Tupper. I had never heard of this Catholic priest but the title of his book fascinated me: The Postmodern Catholic (Lionine Publishers, 2020). The topic of postmodernism has long fascinated me, and thus I decided to order this book from Amazon. Unfortunately, its content disappointed me and part of the book will remain unread.
However, I owe Father Tupper my subject for this week’s blog. He reports that at a given time he attended a panel discussion with some 15 local Protestant ministers. These pastors shared stories of their personal journey of faith, followed by a Question and Answer time. One of the questions was: If Christ were to come today, which church would He join?
Of course, this is a very hypothetical question. Nonetheless, let’s just consider it for a few moments. We would assume that Christ would go for a Christian denomination. If so, our Lord would have a rather wide range of denominations to choose from. Nobody really knows how many denominations there are globally. According to Wikipedia there are worldwide at last 45.000 different denominations. Would He find among all these church organizations a church where He would want to attend regularly, or would even want to become a member?
Many fellow Seventh-day Adventist Christians might think that the answer to the question what church Christ would choose is rather easy. Jesus was known as a regular Sabbath worshipper. He even actively participated in the Sabbath worship. So, it seems rather obvious that He would choose a Sabbath keeping denomination and that the Seventh-day Adventist Church would be the most likely candidate. After all, would the One who called Himself the Truth, not want to associate with those of His followers who pride themselves that they have discovered and preach the biblical truth?
But, let’s not be too quick with our answer. What we learn about Jesus’ character and about the ways in which he interacted with people, when He was with us some 2000 years ago, and what we distill from his discussions with the men and women He met and from his teachings and sermons, should give us an indication which church He would select. There is little doubt that He would pick a denomination where everybody is welcome, regardless of education, social status, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation; where love and tolerance are highest on the hierarchy of values; where people practice peace and forgiveness and have learned to be non-judgmental. Christ would choose a spiritual family where serving others comes natural to all members. He would want to be among people of all ages, children, youth and young adults most definitely included—even if He would not like all of their music and would not share all of their interests. And, surely, He would prefer to be in a church community that would be eager to listen to His Word and to the Spirit that He sent them. He would be looking for people who long for a close relationship to His Father—a community of faith that truly enjoys life and that knows how to experience true rest. And He would recognize His true followers from the commitment to the mission with which He entrusted His people.
Is this a picture of the denomination to which I belong? Worldwide? Does it reflect the denomination in my region of the world? In my country? Is this the profile of the local church where I attend and where my membership is registered?
The question which church Jesus Christ would choose, if He were at earth at this moment, is, indeed, hypothetical. But we cannot simply dismiss it. If Christ would not choose my denomination or my local church, why would I?
Therefore, an urgent follow-up question emerges: How do we make our church the kind of community where Christ would feel truly welcome and which He might decide to join it?
PS: It is assuring to know that Christ is used to associate with imperfetc people.