For many people the Christian faith is about “protecting the soul from wounds.” This is in total contradiction to the teachings of Jesus. You cannot love without being wounded. Whatever else Christianity may be, it is not primarily about the saving of my puny soul or being divinely protected from life’s ups and downs, nor is it about my running around trying to “save” other souls! Nor is a Christian, in Christ’s sense, a person marked by the little habits which he or she has or does not have. Nor is a Christian a person who makes a book their God. Like Theresa of Avila, I have always prayed “to be delivered from sour, vinegary Christians” of this sort, but alas, there are so many!
Christianity is meant to be an exciting venture of faith in which we bet that God really is, that God is like Jesus, and that God has a purpose for this world. A Christian is one who has taken that plunge, made that commitment, and seeks to learn God’s purpose and to carry it forward. If, as I believe, God’s purpose is to bring all people together as one, to make this world a loving, caring and compassionate community, we cannot avoid being wounded. It is a messy business.
There is a correlation between what Christianity is meant to be and what democracy is meant to be. If we want a government that will protect us from the messy world that surrounds us, we must seek something other than democracy. Democracy is yet a dream to be fulfilled, a government where people of all races, of all nationalities and of all creeds can live together in harmony, where each person is accorded dignity and worth. It is a government formed “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”
Christianity is an exciting venture of faith and so is a democracy. Neither protect us from wounds. Indeed, to be true to what they are meant to be, both Christianity and democracy will wound us, because both have to do with bringing all people together as one (not one side against the other) to make this land a loving, caring and compassionate community. It is a messy business.