Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Institution: The Real American Idol

Institution isn't bad - no more than any other great work made by human hands. But when institution becomes something more, when it becomes an entity in itself demanding unquestioning sacrifice & uncompromising loyalty, then it has become an idol... And that is very bad, indeed.

Idolatry has a funny knack of producing gods that serve our own selfish desires & impulses. It shouldn't be surprising that nearly every form of ancient religion venerating self-made physical embodiments of their gods (idols) involved prostitution & rituals of excess. Western Christianity has done the same. We have fashioned the institutional church - meant to facilitate a Christ-centered lifestyle - into a venerated entity that conveniently caters to our own American lifestyle of self-centeredness.

We have invested into the institution, built it up, polished it... We have sacrificed to create it & organize it & burn ourselves out to keep it going. It is our Tower of Babel. We built it & we do not want to see it fall. And yet, how did God respond to all that wonderful unity & productivity by those ancient people? He despised their tower. He despised it because it was sitting in His seat.

So what do we do with this tool called Institution, which we have fashioned into a great tower of self-centeredness?

"Little children, guard yourselves from idols." ~ The Apostle John.


David said...

Ahhh, 'self-centeredness'. I just went on a rant about that on my blog.
I think it's so true, because in America it's so easy to be self-centered.

John Lynch said...

I read your post, brother. Awesome stuff!

John Lynch said...

More on this & on David's post... What is our relationship to the institution now? Makeesha has posted on being "purple"... which in the familiar territory of one-on-one relationships seems doable. But what of the institution itself? The services? They payrolls? The membership classes? How do we respond to those?