I’m writing this blog post from France. Michelle and I booked a river cruise through one of the wine regions and are having an amazing time. I expected most of our days to be spent around rolling vineyards and chateaus (similar to what we’ve come to love from Oregon wine country… minus the chateaus). While there are certainly vineyards and chateaus, there are also ancient cities and towns with tons of history. I have loved this, I just wasn’t necessarily antipicating it.
One of the days we toured a town called Cadillac (pronounced kadijak). Like many old towns in Europe it features a well-aged church. But there is something about this church that caught my attention. It was built into the very walls of the original city, which meant that one wall of the church was also the wall to the outside of the city. As such, they had openings for archers built into it (see the photo above). Our guide told us that when the town needed to be defended the archers would run into the church and shoot arrows from inside.
It struck me as such a contradiction: imagining soldiers literally killing people from inside a space designed to worship the guy who died for His enemies.
Yet it really isn’t different than many of the things we often allow to take place in churches today.
- When we preach a message of Christian nationalism that distorts the Gospel to partisan agendas and attempts to force our beliefs on others.
- When our essential Christian beliefs are shaped by the cultural wars we feel required to fight (being anti-gay or anti-abortion aren’t essentials of Christianity).
- When we highlight our American flags alongside our crosses.
- When we celebrate our nation’s military on holidays and attach our freedom in Christ to whatever sense of freedom we have as Americans.
- When we choose “lions not sheep” and prefer power over others in sheer contrast to everything that Jesus modeled.
- When we think a formal nonprofit entity with a building is the only way for the Church to gather.
- When we continue to follow Jesus yet also find ways to allow for the violence and killing we assume is required in this world.
It’s easier to see the absurdity in a church wall in France. It’s harder to see it when everyone around us tells us it’s normal.
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