Understanding the Church’s being

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“The Church is tasked to help heal the world of all forms of sickness.”

The Church exclusively refers to a body of believers who, in theory and practice, embrace the teachings of Jesus the Christ that are theologically founded on the Jewish religion, hence the attribution to its Judeo-Christian tradition.

The Philippines is the only Christian country in the Far East. Out of its 105 million population, an estimated 85 million consider themselves as Christians. The predominant Christian religion is the Roman Catholic on the account of 300 years under the Spanish rule until the end of the 20th century.

A miniscule 15 percent of the estimated 85 million Christian Filipinos belong to the Evangelicals – also known as Protestants, and the homegrown religions embracing wholly or partially the Judeo-Christian traditions as espoused by the early Judeo-Greco-Roman church.

As the body of Christ, the church is able to command respect from members solely based on the ascendancy it has over them as the repository of Jesus’ teachings that supposedly make them understand better God’s will for humanity. Understanding God’s will shapes them from being dictated by the greed-shaped ways of this world into a life obedient to the greed-less ways of God.

Being the sole repository of God’s teachings, which is to love God with heart, mind, body and soul, and to love fellow humans the way we love ourselves, the Church is under obligation to preach the world about Jesus and His message.

The Church is tasked to help heal the world of all forms of sickness, be it physical, emotional, social, political and even economic. It is for this reason why, for example, the Church established schools and hospitals. Because in the eyes of God, ignorance and sickness are anomalies that need to be cured.

How the Church allowed its educational and health care institutions to be gobbled up by the ways of this world is another thing. In fact, it is a big puzzle and even an anomaly in itself. This could be a good topic for a future column.

In pursuing its ministry, the church necessarily has to point out what is wrong with society, how much it had deviated from the will of God for members to obey. In Church’s language, it is its prophetic mission.

Truth is, if the Church abandons its prophetic task and mission, it has abandoned its reason for being, its raison d’etre. Once it voluntarily strips itself by not performing it, the Church actually demotes itself into becoming just like any civic, social or political organization.

Here lies the problem. When the Church does not practice its own teachings anymore, it invites disaster to itself. It will foray itself into territories not its own. This is the reason for the institutionalization in our Constitution of the separation of Church and State.

The Church can only point out how devious society has become as a result of its utter disregard of God’s will for humans resulting in corruption that engenders all facets of life, including the government’s and even the Church’s. The body of Christ cannot even move to change the political leadership regardless of its opinion about corruption.

It is in this regard where tension lies between Church and State. Admittedly, the Church had lost its moral ascendancy to pursue its prophetic task without fear or favor, unlike the prophets of old when it became highly institutionalized. The Church’s institutionalization defanged for it has itself been shaped by greed for wealth, power and fame.

This is where the Church is now. And for it to recover its lost prophetic being, it should start stripping itself of its greed-shaped institutional desires.