The Junk in the Attic

The American church has inherited quite a bit from the people who have gone before us.

There are treasures that we should keep and be thankful for, but there is junk in our “attic” too. We have not always done as we ought nor have we always treated our brothers, sisters, and neighbors with the dignity and respect due to fellow image-bearers. It will be very hard to move on until we bring this junk down from its dark hiding place, examine it in the light of day, and properly dispose of it through repentance and reconciliation.

 

Several years ago, we helped my parents move to an independent living facility. For those of you who have moved elderly parents, you know what it’s like. If your parents lived through the Great Depression or a similar economically trying circumstance, you also know the added challenge. Not only is there the accumulation of decades’ worth of stuff, nothing is thrown away for fear it might be needed. Consequently we sorted through trunks, boxes, and bags not sure of what we would find. There were treasures such as correspondence between my dad and his siblings during his college days. But there were also many items over which we just shook our heads and then tossed into the trash. This wasn’t my junk. I didn’t tuck it away in the attic, but it was my problem because it was my family.

I was talking to my daughter recently about the difficulty in discussing racial issues among Christians. Some think others are making it out to be more of a problem than it currently is. Some think the issue is being swept under the rug. It’s also difficult because isn’t the past the past? Many of us were born after the Civil Rights Movement. So how do we even broach the conversation without raising hackles? My insightful daughter made the following analogy, which I am borrowing and expanding.

The American church has inherited quite a bit from the people who have gone before us. There are treasures that we should keep and be thankful for, but there is junk in our “attic” too. We have not always done as we ought nor have we always treated our brothers, sisters, and neighbors with the dignity and respect due to fellow image-bearers. It will be very hard to move on until we bring this junk down from its dark hiding place, examine it in the light of day, and properly dispose of it through repentance and reconciliation. While it is true that we may not have been the ones who formed past ideas and practices, it’s become our stuff by virtue of being in the family. Ideas also have serious consequences and far outlive their creators. Have we been influenced by mindsets that are harmful to the body of Christ? If so, wouldn’t we want to be aware of them and stop their spread? Wouldn’t we want to set the record straight and begin to clean up the mess instead of passing it down to the next generation because we were too reluctant to deal with it? The only thing we have to lose may be pride and lack of understanding, but what we gain will be for the good of our entire family.

Now seems like a very good time to start. What are we waiting for?

Persis Lorenti is an ordinary Christian. You can find her at Tried With Fire and Out of the OrdinaryThis article appeared on her blog and is used with permission.