Jesus founded a church, not a gated community
By: Unknown centurion
The modern church has given up its missionary mission. It disregards or almost completely disregards Christ’s final command and commission to go into all the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:19–20). The church should be, and has long been, an incredible, effective vehicle established by Jesus to renew the face of the earth, which has been in need of renewal since the fall. Similarly, before the Fall, when God created Adam and Eve, He commanded and commissioned our first parents to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). In our fallen state, when man began to cover the earth, we remained under the dominion of the prince of the world. Jesus died for the church (Ephesians 5:25) so that his kingdom, received at Calvary, could overcome the kingdom of the world and its prince. To do this, his followers had to accept their commission to go out to make disciples, baptize, teach, and convert the world to Christ, to restore the right order of creation and fellowship with our Creator. But today, instead of taking the fight to the gates of hell, the Church has retreated to the seeming safety of its gated community, an increasingly insignificant island in the ever-expanding ocean of secularism.
The Hebrew faith, from which our faith stems, did not have such a great mandate. In fact, certain safeguards were put in place, including circumcision and the ban on intermarriage to protect it from paganism, making it difficult to attract non-Jewish converts. God’s plan was to bring salvation to the world through a descendant of Abraham, the Messiah, through whom the whole world would be blessed (Genesis 22:18). And that is exactly how it unfolded, although it required two divine revelations to the first pope and a Roman centurion (see Acts 10) to ensure the expansionist spirit of this new faith rather than remain an isolated, insular Judaism 2.0. And this divine human institution has done exactly what it was told to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, making mistakes as an organization led and filled by sinful men inevitably does.
In modern and postmodern times, it has grown rich, comfortable, and proud, while bleeding millions of souls, essentially abandoning its primary mission, and all but losing its moral authority. She was greatly diminished at the time when the forces of darkness were increasing exponentially, in part due to hundreds of self-inflicted wounds as she opened the windows on the world at a time when the evil spirit of the times, an antichrist spirit of chaos, Immorality and revolution spread across the western world and were the most important among them. Add to that the fact that the Ark of Salvation is no longer led by a majority of male, militant missionaries, but by mostly mediocre, militant, middle managers, fainthearted, spoiled princes, hidden homosexual hypocrites, and downright evil enemies of God. Without Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against them, would the church that guards them cease to exist?
Gated communities aren’t bad; They simply chose to erect a clear dividing wall between those within and those outside its gates. Regardless of intent, closed communities severely limit the number, frequency, and depth of encounters with people in the non-closed world. We see such thinking in some bishops and priests who maintain a clear, impenetrable distinction, an impassable chasm, if you will, between the elite clerical class within and the great unwashed without. Perhaps nothing has been more emblematic of this gated community mindset than deciding in lockstep to lock down our churches in response to a virus without being creative and without challenging the unconstitutional edicts that exist in casinos, liquor stores, drug stores and abortion clinics allowed to remain open. Contrast this particularly safe approach to the missionary church of nearly two millennia, which continued to celebrate mass and minister to the poor and sick during far more deadly plagues and pandemics, led by brave, selfless priests and nuns like St. Roch, St. Charles Borromeo, St Damien of Molokai and St Marianne Cope. In these final years, when the church should have been a fully functioning field hospital, it chose to function as an exclusive nursing home where no one could enter, and maintains a hopeless hospice mentality that the once youthful, radiant church will do never recover. Some of the same shepherds who barred the gates of the fold seem all too content to let the 80 out of a hundred lost and wounded remain outside their gates, quite contrary to the Good Shepherd’s command to go out the gates and gather even that a.
Remember, Jesus’ promise in Matthew 16 seemed to project an outward looking church pushing into the gates of hell, not the navel-gazing NGO it has become, where the gates of hell keep pushing in and reclaiming huge swaths in the process of land and souls to Satan. With today’s cowardly, gated community approach, how far would the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church have spread – a church whose primary purpose is no longer to convert or transform the world, but merely to continue its existence and preserve its shrinking wealth, property and market share? A worldly, opaque bureaucracy too bloated to go on missions and too complacent to do what needs to be done is no threat to, or a match for, its many enemies. A church in retreat, denying itself but willingly acquiescing in evil, or fleeing faintheartedly while its pastors hide embarrassed behind its protective gates, is lost. An institution that has become a self-imposed prison of incompetence, powerlessness, and insignificance is unattractive to almost everyone. Until the church regains its apostolic standing and regains its indomitable expansionist spirit with the courage, zeal, perseverance, and selfless, self-sacrificing boast of the early church, we can expect a smaller, more divided, more inconsequential institution surrounded on all sides of the spirit of the world, its prince, his visible and invisible allies, and countless ignorant, apathetic onlookers.
But regardless of what we expect or project based on current local conditions, God is responsible for His church. He can, and seems to be, awakening and uplifting many men and women who have not bowed down to the Baals of Time. The more the enemy overdoes his hand and pushes the culture in a decidedly devilish direction, the more people will finally stand up and say to Satan and repeat his words, “Non Serviam.” The first step to preventing the demise of a civilization is for just enough men to stand firm and refuse to go over the cliff with all the lemmings indoctrinated with all the madness, immorality, and irrational innovations of the era to go. Yes we can try to save them but we have to hold the line and we can’t go over the edge with them. But for things to get this bad, not only did church leaders give up their prime directive, so did we. The commission was both a collective command for the church to be carried out by its leaders and an individual call for each of us to accept or reject the commission. For God to come to our aid as He seems to want, enough of us have to stand up and refuse to just sit back and accept and pray for His help.
In a society of universal sin, we can expect God’s universal grace to abound and overpower (Romans 5:20). Though things are definitely dark, the Holy Spirit appears to be ushering in a new, organic dawn for the church, not the artificial, stillborn “spring” that was stifled by the zeitgeist a few generations ago. This seems to be a time of saints, prophets, martyrs and mystics – holy, joyful, zealous ministers, religious and lay, men and women of faith and courage, conformed with Christ by virtue of their worthily receiving of and at this time we spend with our Eucharistic Lord. Jesus is there every day, at Mass and in every tabernacle, awaiting those who come to him so that in time he can shower them with untold graces and inconceivable power, so that through them he can renew the earth in great need can of renewal.
Those who accept His invitation and invite Him to take control of their lives will be the great saints that time demands to make up for what is lacking on the higher levels of a church that has essentially lost her will, to go forward and fight. The more men and women reverently worship and worthily receive Him, for themselves and on behalf of and in reparation to others, the greater the potency, the exponential effect, and the supernatural effects of which we shall not know until the special judgment. This church at the crossroads will likely be a tale of two churches – an unfaithful, isolated, immovable institution content to remain cowardly in the self-perceived security of its guarded community (whose gates are in fact the gates of hell they surround); and a faithful, dynamic Church with a mission, led by Bishops, Priests, Religious and Laity, fully aware of the times we live in, approaching them with a sense of urgency and yet both ours recognize personal impotence as well as the need for divine assistance and the use of all of the Church’s supernatural weapons in order to be victorious.