Musings: My Unconditional Love for the Church Compels and Challenges Me

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By Chasity Shavon Jones

So often, we are involved in the church that we become numb to the numinosity and mystery that is the Church of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we become consumed with obligations and forget how wondrous the church is. So many disappointments inside of the place that was once known to us as a refuge, conditions us to harden our hearts. When participating in church activities, “freedom” can become replaced with “obligation.” We can sometimes reduce “ministry” to a “job” or “task on the checklist” of life. Spirituality is forsaken and replaced with routine. Because I’ve witnessed oppression that had been justified with scriptures of peace and/or submission used out of context, admittedly, I too have made ministry into work. As a result, the church that I once felt protected by and loved was turned into a place that I must be prepared to defend myself.

“When participating in church activities, ‘freedom’ can become replaced with ‘obligation.’ We can sometimes reduce ‘ministry’ to a ‘job’ or ‘task on the checklist’ of life. Spirituality is forsaken and replaced with routine.”

{Chasity Jones on making ministry into work}

When returning from Vancouver, Wash., I realized that I had grown defensive concerning the church. I was overwhelmed with the love of God that reminded me of my love for the Church of Christ as a whole. After spending time removed from the hustle and bustle of the city and having the opportunity to be shown around Washougal United Methodist Church by the Rev. Tucker, I realized that I missed being a part of a small rural church that embodied community and was not determined or divided by the news of the country. This reminded me of how I grew to love the church when I was young, back when politics and church didn’t intersect as much.

The interactions between the members reminded me of home when you get so lost in a conversation so good that you forget about the time. Seeing the dresses hung on the walls of the sanctuary melted my frosty heart. Seeing the pictures of the children and families of the church at Pastor Tucker’s house for a summer pool party, provoked so many flashbacks of how close my small town church was during my childhood. It was conducive of an environment that made me feel nurtured, safe, valued, and protected inside the walls and bodies that made up my church. This was a time when church was a refuge and in my innocence, people who hated me because of my skin color were nowhere to be found. But I was naïve.

Older now, I have a sense that people who consider me to be inferior surround me daily…who even pray to the same ‘God’ that I do. Upon realizing this, I felt an urge to immediately abandon all things that had to do with the Church. However: I am able and compelled to still love the church regardless. How perplexing it is to love something that may very well chose to hurt you. I am convinced that this is a revelation of unconditional love that I experienced.

How perplexing it is to love something that may very well chose to hurt you. I am convinced that this is a revelation of unconditional love that I experienced. 

{Chasity Jones on loving the church.}

On that train home, I journaled. I committed to myself and the Most High that I would not give up on the Church of Jesus Christ.  Instead, I choose to fight for its soul. I am committed to challenging the Church, and to be a voice crying in the wilderness, saying these hard things at the expense of my reputation. I’ve been convicted to fight for the Church; to remain and return to being a refuge and sanctuary for young black children that have a confusing life of navigating unrelenting trauma. I now feel affirmed, as well as obligated, to continue centering sobering questions of James Cone and other great American theologians. Continuing the discussion of Black Liberation and Womanist Theology with questions like:

  • “Can the Church be racist and Christian at the same time?”
  • “When does the Church cease to be the Church of Christ?”
  • “Can the Church of Jesus Christ be politically, socially, and economically identified with structure of oppression and also be a servant of Christ?”

In the name of the love that I carry like a torch in my soul, I cannot sit by in silence. The love of God, the love of the Church, and the love of people compel me to open my mouth instead of running away.


Chasity Shavon Jones serves as a Global Mission Fellow as an organizer for Faith Action Network in Seattle, Wash.

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