When I was told about the Sandanistan Revolution in Nicaragua, I was sitting in a church. The people of that church told me about their uprising, the people’s uprising. They told me how they had gathered to speak of the campesino Jesus, the Christ of the people, the liberator. They told me how the diocese sent them a new priest who wasn’t sympathetic, and he locked them out of the church. But they cut the lock, they said, and took back the building because they had built it with their own hands.
When I want to give up on church–I mean, when I want to give up completely on the whole church–I think of that place in Nicaragua. I think of how the people cut the lock on the door.
I know that sometimes people think it’s just an attitude thing about me, that I am such a black sheep Christian. I’m so rebellious; I don’t ever properly submit to leadership; I don’t ever give in to pressure to conform. In so many ways I even fail to claim full membership.
And yet, I won’t leave either. It’s like I’m standing in the door.
I know that sometimes people think it’s just my darkness that keeps me on the outskirts. Sometimes even the very best, most loving people think that I’ll grow up into the ability to walk forward into the midst of the circle, that I’ll eventually mature into letting that door fall shut behind me, and then I’ll have my chance to feel all bright and warm and beautiful in the light of the altar.
But that isn’t the way it is for me. For me, the closest to Christ Jesus I can ever get is when I am cutting all the locks on all the doors.
The closest to truth I ever get is the black sheep gospel, which says, “unto you a child is born, and I mean you–you with your outsider’s complex, you with your snark, you with your countercultural calling and your revolution and your heart on your sleeve. You’re in if you want to be in. That’s all it takes.”
This is such a crazy thing to believe about Jesus–the center of it all, really–but those who hear the call are called, and that’s all there is to it. No matter how we look or speak or what seat we choose, or whether we’re causing trouble for the diocese.
It’s true. I am an opt-in Christian. As it turns out, that is the only kind there is.
This is why I speak of overturning, and of cutting down gates. This is why I claim fiercely the identity of Christian, even as I refuse to line up behind the structure of the kyriarchy. I will not see the liberator Jesus locked out of my church. I will hold this door open with my feet.
And just as the church in Nicaragua lives and grows and passes through time, so will the rest of the church. This is my hope. As many gatekeepers as we overtake or ignore along the way, still this house of God will shelter us. Still this temple grows and reaches out living hands to embrace us, even where we stand at the edges and on the fringes. Even bringing in a draft through all these open doors.
This is the black sheep gospel. Unto you a child is born, a liberator, a prince of peace. Even unto you, with your revolution and your thirst for justice and your love for a Jesus of the people, who would see the mighty brought low and the slaves of empire freed.
We have cut this lock, and set the gospel free. This house is ours.
This post was originally posted at “A Deeper Story.” Thanks for reading it here today!
Photo Credit: Nick Carter