|Antioch College Campus|
It was a weekday luncheon. I entered Beavercreek Golf Course's Clubhouse for a Greater Dayton Sectional pastor’s meeting of the Assemblies of God. News had just broken that Antioch College was under tremendous financial pressure and would be closing its doors. A pastor made a comment to the effect of, “Now that ‘that’ place is closing, perhaps our Yellow Springs church will have a revival and God will be able to move.” At that time, I was a student of Antioch University McGregor (AUM), another college in the university’s system. Even though that pastor did not realize that I was a current student of AUM, quite honestly, I could not believe what I had heard. And, my mode of action was silence. If you do any research on Antioch College, you will find it was probably the most liberal college in the country. However, it had declined to the point of less than 200 students. Hence, that presented the need for it to have to shut its doors.
If you are a regular reader, you read last post about Joe from my pastorate. My experience with pastoring Joe was the beginning of my spiritual / emotional transformation. Antioch was a continuance of the process. My very first class was called Self and Society. I will never forget the first 30-minutes of that class experience. You know the drill. The professor introduces his/herself. Then, the students take turns singing their own praises. Well, I could not believe the diversity of people, backgrounds and beliefs represented in that classroom. And, the white, conservative, Christian (pastor, none-the-less) male was definitely in the minority. I remember thinking, “Mike, what have you gotten yourself into?” As the introductions continued across the room, one white lady shared her story. It went like this, “I am a lesbian pagan and my partner is a black lady.” I nearly pooped my pants. Her statement of being grated against EVERYTHING that had been poured into my psyche since birth.
Time passed. I learned to be more tolerant and loving of people. And, people learned to be more tolerant and loving of me. I remember one class in particular. Someone was ranting and raving about the stupidity of “conservative Christians.” I spoke up and proclaimed, “Why is it at this school anything goes and is OK except conservative Christianity? You are all hypocrites if you say you except anyone as they are but you do not accept conservative Christians.” I immediately got an apology. And, my days at AUM were the most wonderful and enlightening days of my life. It was amazing to see how people would migrate to me to share situations they were going through, get my insight and ask for my prayer; including gays, lesbians, pagans, atheists and agnostics. I would have rather been in that position than in any pulpit in America!
Didn’t Jesus say to GO into the world and teach His Gospel? He didn’t say, “Go build your churches and keep people out unless they are just like you.” I really, really think that if Jesus were in Yellow Springs, OH in the flesh, He would not have been at the local Assembly of God. He would have been at the campus of Antioch. He would not have been appalled at the lifestyle of people. He would have reached out in love and compassion. He would say, “Those without sin cast the first stone,” and, “Go and sin no more.”
Is God so impotent that He lacks the power to move in the midst of what Christians term different, or, what they consider sin? I am here to tell you that the God I serve is neither powerless nor impotent. He moves in the hearts of people who willingly trust, accept and believe in him.
Oh, remember the white lesbian pagan who was partnered with the black woman? She is one of the dearest people I have ever met. We are still friends. I adore her. To be quite frank, I would rather spend time with her than many pastors or “Christians” I have met in my walk of life. No, my God is bigger than any pastor, denomination, fellowship, church, or school. Just get over yourself and your religion and He will show that to you, too.