Jesus is at a meeting with Moses, Elijah, Peter, James and John in 1968 at the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy in White Castle, Missouri. Sort of a transfiguration reunion. Here’s what they heard (paraphrased) after the offertory and a “special music” by Francine Chestnut:
Pastor Buck Thorn (pounding loudly on his hand-carved pulpit): Everybody who isn’t like us good Bible-lovin’ Christians will fry in hell! And, Praise God, there will be a heathen’s righteous judgment!
The Congregation: Amen!
Pastor Buck: Now, let’s stand. With every head bowed and every eye closed, who wants to go to heaven? I see that hand. Yes. Yes. Another. Thank you. Thank you. Now look up (grand smile). Take a seat for a moment and dig deep into your pockets as we’re takin’ a love offering for the Bratwursts who are missionaries to the damned in Africanistan. In the meantime, Sister Athena will you give the Sunday School report?
Elijah (wide-eyed): Wow!
Jesus (nodding): Yep. This is what’s called a monoculture. No one here thinks about much outside this town. Most of ’em are related and they don’t like different.
Moses (thoughtfully): Yeah, reminds me of the boneheaded, stiff-necked Hebrews.
Jesus: No one here ever rubs shoulders with anyone who isn’t a white, middle-income, Protestant farmer. They don’t love Russians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, communists or Muslims because they don’t know any of these. There’s not even a Chinese restaurant in this town.
John: But Jesus, that’s not right. You taught us that the world will know disciples by your love.
Peter: Holy smoke! Buck wouldn’t go over too well in Jerusalem or Antioch.
John: Whew! I’m amazed! This is a church?
Jesus (putting his hand on Moses’ shoulder): Sort of. There are some really fine saints here, but the church tends to act like cultural institution or a club associated with Christianity. Thankfully, love and good news transcend culture. You guys declare a message of love and repentance. The good news that if one turns to God, he will accept them. You know — it’s really, really, really personal — me and you. We’re not talkin’ sin management, being good or being a member of the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy.
Elijah (pointing his staff at the preacher): Yeah, Buck needs some exposure. He’s thinking he is THE ONLY ONE or these are THE ONLY PEOPLE OF GOD, and that’s dangerous.
Peter (whistling): He doesn’t have a clue about The Keys to the Kingdom.
Jesus (putting his other arm around Peter’s shoulder): I’m working on this, guys.
James: What do you mean?
Jesus (drawing the others into a small circle): After I ascended it took about 300 years for church institutionalism to settle in — we got adopted by the government. Then for about a 1200 years fighting was limited to kings and cleric types because of lack of books and people who could read. When the Bible was published all hell broke loose. Everybody became a “priest.” Individual and institutional churches splintered into zillions of little groups, like the First Faithful Church of God of Christ Prophecy.
The group looks at Jesus thoughtfully.
Jesus (motioning with his hand): Come with me.
They all vanish and reappear in your church.
Jesus: This is the new millennium. Monoculturalism has almost disappeared — high-speed transportation, cable, Internet — this millennium faces a global community full of all sorts of faiths and cultures. The last millenium only saw this in big cities and universities. The buffer zones are gone.
Peter (animatedly): Narrow-mindedness isn’t going to work here! Get out The Keys!
Jesus (smiling): Right, Peter. My disciples have a real chance to shine in this setting. Love will rule. No more religious silos. No more segregation. I’m calling it a discipleship ‘convergence’ — folks loving like we did in the beginning.
John (excited): Wow! This millennial group have a remarkable chance to renew the mission of the church.
Moses (with some reserve): But first they’ll have to learn to treat other faiths and cultures like their own. The Law won’t help much. That’s a hard lesson. As you showed, Jesus, it only comes with grace.
Jesus (gives him a quick hug): Moses, you hit the nail on the head. This is where this millennium’s disciples have a historically unique opportunity — they can think globally rather than locally. I’m hoping they’ll quit arguing and splitting and begin loving and caring. And so we start — again — love others as I have loved you. Converge!
Tr8: Lose the monoculture. We’re living together now. Our cultures are different, but love transcends culture.