To be a church means to walk the journey of life with the Lord and with people, and to share not only sadness but also joy. The Catholic Times in its column: 'Reading the Times with Theology' gives the reader a look at Church and what it should be in the words of a director of a Catholic Culture and Theological Research Center.
■ Sad memories of the word church
He confesses the word 'church' is often remembered for its cold, authoritative feel rather than warmth. As a seminary student, he felt uncomfortable when he heard church as a holy place was ultimately a church choice and felt a slight resistance to the idea. In seminary life, the word church was often related to the act of judging and disciplining. Perhaps that's why, sadly, the word church came easily nuanced as negative.
Even as a priest, the word church did not have an attractive connotation. Or maybe, the people who used the word church used the word in a way that made you feel its negativity. They were usually powerful or authoritative people in the church. Rather than being used in the context of loving, forgiving, and embracing the word was mainly used in the context of defining, judging, and excluding. It was hoped that more people would use the words 'evangelical' and 'faithful' than the word 'church'. Of course, the adjectives evangelical, religious, ecclesiastical, and doctrinal are closely connected and may mean the same thing.
■ We live in a church
The core concepts of modern theological explanations of the church are 'God's people and 'fellowship'. The church is made up of God's people, and the purpose and principle of operation is friendship. The church, which aims for friendship with God and friendship between people, is naturally a community of equal people in the presence of God.
Of course, the core of the church is a visible religious system. We live with institutions and laws in this world and they need to be respected. But institutions and laws must aim for higher ideals that are invisible. The religious system exists not for itself but for the sake of God's people and friendship. The community of God's people is always a relationship of love and equality. The church's friendship is a trinity. The Trinity is not the order of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, but the diversity of roles and relationships. It is a mystery of diversity that shows the breadth and depth of the Lord's love for man.
The church exists in the journey to the Lord. The church always means 'becoming church'. We are on a long pilgrimage to the Lord. In the journey, we should always ask and reflect on what it means to be a church, to live as a church. In a world where gratitude and contrition are culturally worn out and disappearing, I must ask what it means to live as a church?
■ Warm and intimate church
We live in a relationship with others. Today's world has changed from a modernist world that emphasized individual freedom, autonomy, and reason to a postmodern world that emphasizes emotions, desires, and a sense of community belonging. Movement from an interest in subjects to interest in others. (Michel Maffesoli "The Age of Tribes") We live in a world where belonging, intimacy, emotions are more important, than concepts and intellectualizing.
From a sociological point of view, there are three reasons why people belong to a religious community: existential comfort, security, self-confirmation, and recognition. In an uneasy world where all values and ideologies are shaken, belonging to a religious community gives psychological stability. In a world where fierce competition and inequality are intensified, religious communities can provide social connections, social power and religion can work as a kind of social safety net. In a world where one is judged and discriminated against by one's abilities, status, and property, the healthy recognition system of the religious community provides a place to breathe.
Today's church should be able to provide a healthy sense of belonging and warm intimacy. It should be able to share the right religious orientation and give a healthy sense of belonging that comes from sharing religious practices. In the church, believers should be able to feel the true intimacy that comes from honest and equal solidarity, not the order of rank and difference.
■ Church of sorrow and joy
We are already a church, and always becoming a church. To be a church means to walk the journey of life with the Lord and with the people. In an individualistic and selfish age, it is not easy to walk through this life with someone. Being a church is training on how to live together.
Living together means sharing sorrow and joy. At first glance, it seems easy to sympathize and unite with other people's pain and sorrow. We don't find it difficult to sympathize with other people's grief. Not many people are cynical and mock others for their pain and sorrow. It is a beautiful act of a human being to grieve together. In fact, what is more difficult is sharing joy. It is very difficult to share the joy of others with my joy. It is always hard to overcome feelings of envy and jealousy in the struggle for recognition. Being a church is not only about sadness but also joy.
Isn't the person who becomes a church to someone probably a person who is always wishing and praying for the best for the other? (Benevolent). Do we live a life of being 'church' to others?