Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We bear witness

Jeri is both a biblical scholar and a 4th degree black belt. These strengths give her an interesting perspective on our fight for clergy accountability.

Sometimes I simply lose track of what it is I’m doing and why. Does this work make sense? Does it make things better? Does it change anything? Constantly, I ask these questions, and my answers are often shaded by a sense of hopelessness and futility.

But in a comment under the prior posting, Jeri’s words struck a chord and so I want to share them here.

We bear witness, she explains. It is both as simple and as difficult as that. We bear witness to the reality of countless so-called religious leaders who turned a blind eye to the rape and molestation of kids by their clergy colleagues, and who continue to do so.

Our voices, our lives, our stories, our very selves – WE are the bodies they tried to bury.

With each and every one of us who serve as witness to this terrible truth, we encourage others as they too struggle to claw out of that dark spiritual and psychological pit that religious leaders dumped them in.

In Jeri’s words….

"Remember, even the Lord Jesus did not try to convert most of the Pharisees. He never EVER appealed to the High Priest to repent.

I don't know that any of us who work to make these tragedies and sins known will ever see the highest echelons of the Religious Elite repent. But we will see the wounded gain trust in Christ. We will see the Lord act on behalf of His people (His true people, not these garish pretenders).

When you make public these sins, and you reason well… you are reaching a silent group of people. Your victory is not in converting corrupt Baptist leaders, but in showing their victims that there is still a level of decency in others that is concerned about what happened to them.

This is what it is to be a witness. We do not mark the time or the effort. We simply take it a day at a time, working each day as we are able. The concept, in martial arts, is not to be trapped in time. Don't let yourself be conscious of time passing, because that is a trap. Your mindset has to be timeless. You live in the present moment, doing the very next thing to advance your fight. That way, you don't weary yourself.

In a fight, when a fighter starts watching the clock or worrying about how much longer the fight is going to go, he puts himself at a huge disadvantage. He wears himself down.

Similarly, if you take a hard blow, do not focus on the pain or worry about the damage until you are in a place to calmly assess it and repair it. You must fight "above" the pain, without fear.

Let's talk about those hard blows: These men betray themselves, and some of them will go to their graves haranguing you and calling you an evil doer. But their works will make them known to persons who want the truth. Let time work on them as their wicked deeds and wicked works accrue and weigh them down.

Understand the parameters of your war: can you make corrupt leaders non-corrupt? No. They've already sold their souls. Can you sway people at the grass roots level? Yes. Can you comfort the afflicted? Yes.

I do believe the Lord will destroy corrupt church leaders as He destroyed the Sanhedrin when the time was right. But I think our war is to call peace and restoration to the victims of the corrupt church leaders."

6 comments:

Phyllis Gregory said...

Christa,
Jeri is very wise. I love her words; I would love to know her story -- who she is and what she has experienced. She very much speaks the truth and is firm in her belief, but I do not sense a hardened heart. I cannot believe she is Southern Baptist, but I suppose she could be. Her words are heart-warming (at times) and thought-provoking (all the time). I sense that she has an up close and personal relationship with the God of the universe -- she knows Him in a way that I would like to know Him. She also does not allow the pious, religious, self-righteous SBC Pharisees to keep her from her God.

Christa, you obviously have been touched by her words. I think she shows you, all of us, that there is hope and we can find peace -- but we first have to lay some things down. I guess those THINGS are different for each of us and we cannot lay them down until we are emotionally, spiritually, and physically ready to do that. But there is hope, and I think too often we have felt as if there was none.

Take care.
PG

gmommy said...

Thanks for the refreshment Jerri!!!!
One day at a time...as we are able.
John Doe,
I hope this encourages you...if not now...when you are ready. Sometimes we all need to rest.

Christa the Relentless!! We still...never surrender!!!

Anonymous said...

God's true fruit will validate your position even others try to confuse you in using Scripture. For example, God hears need no male's prayers that dismisses the vulnerable (I Peter 3:7; James 1:27). You can be sure of this.

Anonymous said...

The Great Rabbi did in fact try to reason to the Pharisee's and urge repentence. Nicodemus was such as one. Don't give up trying to do this. The previous blog entry is right. Their fruits will reveal themselves in time.

Anonymous said...

In 1845 the Southern Baptist leaders thought that they could do nothing in response to the Northern churches cry of the slave abuse in the South and thought that keeping a mission focus was more important. By not heeding to this issue and splitting off to develop a mission focus convention it did not take care of the issue and eventually the nation split as well. They need to take it seriously Crista. Keep at it.

Jeri said...

Thank you for your kind words, Christa, and others.

In any war, we have to decide what the objectives are, and we also have to understand our terrain.

We want to fight on terrain that favors us. We do not want to fight on terrain that favors the other side. Sun Tzu tells us to avoid camping in the quagmire, but to do everything we can to prompt the enemy to sleep in the quagmire.

For example, in both Vietnam 30 years ago, and in Iraq today, the local fighters knew they could not meet the USA successfully in the air or at sea or even in open, conventional, Western combat. The militarily weaker side had to resort on guerrilla warfare. Their greatest strength was their detailed knowledge of the landscape. In addition, they could blend in with a population that included enemies, allies, and the indifferent. The US forces found themselves at a disadvantage when the war was fought on those terms.

When I remind Christa that Christ never sought out the High Priest, I am correct, but it is true that He responded to Pharisees like Nicodemus or those who invited Him to dine. But remember, they came to Him.

But I am speaking in terms of terrain: waging your war on ground that is hospitable to you.

With little money, little prestige, and a tiny infrastructure, Christa's best hope (and mine as well, as I tackle the same abuses in Independent Baptist churches) is to appeal to the "common decency" of mainstream people. Outing the truth, posting facts, and building a porous, large group of sympathetic readers is more effective than trying to persuade corrupt SBC leaders based on facts and reasoning alone.

I'm not saying she should never address SBC leaders with facts and good reasoning, but her/my/our war cannot be based on this and be successful. If we look at the model of Christ, we see that His method was also based on bringing comfort and truth to the people who had been harmed by the corrupt religious system of His day. In doing this, He brought the Pharisees to Him, which pulled them onto His terrain.

I am not certain that we will ever change corrupt religious leadership, as a group. But I am convinced that we can assist, comfort, and help rebuild those who have been harmed. And I do believe that God, in His time, will destroy the corrupt religious leadership, as He did in 70 AD.