Listen. I'm about to freak everyone out. Those who think I'm a little bit religious radical are going to think I've fallen off the deep end and those who know my love for Jesus are going to think I'm about to walk away. I'm okay. I've had a few personal things that have made me ask some hard questions. I'm going to share with you because we promised to be real in this space, right?
First you should know this: I love Jesus with all my heart. I love my church. My church family. Our pastors. I'm not going anywhere (you can't get rid of me that easily).
I'm going to say a lot of "we", "us", and "our" however maybe I'm wrong and this is just me, myself, and I. Feel free to take it as needed.
There has been a stirring in my heart for quite some time now. A church kid, and unlike most church kids I've always loved church. It truly has always been my sanctuary. A place of rejoicing and fellowship. It has always been a safe and comfortable place for me. So why, all of the sudden, does it feel so off?
Because it's so safe. Because it's so comfortable.
Church should be a safe and comfortable place for those hurting, lost souls who need a place of sanctuary. I have cried many a tear and been held by many a sister in those halls and rooms that make up my church.
But for those of us on whom blessing has been poured out and our hearts filled with Jesus I don't see any promise of comfortable lives in the Bible. In fact, I see quite the opposite. I see that the Comforter lives in us and our lives will be decidedly uncomfortable.
Christmas Eve caused a breakdown for me. Last year I sat in the pew judging. Judging candlelight service, judging the songs we sang, The message they gave, the way people behaved. Because I'm an expert on Christmas Eve service I've been to about 28 of them now.
Ugh. That person from last year makes the one from this year sort of sick.
This year I sat in the chair looking around at all the people I had seen in that very same room only yesterday and the pressing on my spirit came back.
"You're missing it"
We had been filled up just yesterday with the word of God. What had I done with it? We were sitting there on a night that we know is one of the most painful, difficult, and lonely nights for many right under our noses with temperatures quickly dropping well below freezing. What was I doing about it?
"You're missing it"
When did we get so obsessed with our own feeding that we lost our ability to go feed? Why weren't we banning together to take to the streets on a night we know people need Jesus?
Where we afraid of being cold? Afraid of messing up tradition? Scared that we might miss somebody walking through our jammed packed doors? Or where we just so busy doing what we always do that we forgot to think of what Jesus might want us to do?
Listen, I believe firmly that the word of God should be taught, should be preached. I believe it is of utmost importance that believers fellowship, and I believe it should be orderly. However, (here we go) I am also starting to think we are getting it wrong. That I've been getting wrong. That we want to make our church so comfortable for believers and visitors that we are missing all the rest. Everyone is welcome! Unless of course your not brave enough to come in, or you have a cold, or your little and you wiggle and make too much noise. Then please stay outside as so not to bother the rest of us while we are learning about how Jesus wants us to behave.
I think we are simultaneously having far too low of expectations for people claiming to be believers and far too high expectations of people that are lost.
We are so afraid of turning people off to our churches that we cater to the nominal and so afraid of losing someone that we flounder when it comes to being outside our own doors as a body.
I'm not saying we should toss the sermons and Sunday/Wednesday services and provide a purely social gospel. I'm talking the Gospel of the Bible. Going into the world and sharing Jesus as a body.
Here is where it gets tricky. Many of us do that after we leave church. We share Jesus. We care for the hurting and the broken. We open our bank accounts over and over again to support ministries. And yet still it presses on my spirit,
"Your missing it"
We are doing ministry alone as individuals. That's good and right. Americans have famously individualistic attitudes so that makes sense. But I also believe God set his body to work together. And I believe we are failing.
I believe we have convinced ourselves that it is someone else's ministry. Someone else's calling. It's not. We are all called to the poor, foreigners, orphans, and to the widows. How we serve them will be within our calling, but to serve them? Not an option.
We do an outreach here or there throughout out the year, but how often do we really reach out? Do we so desperately need our heater, air conditioner, clean bathrooms, comfy seats, and child care that we can't have church where people need to have church.
Can we not preach downtown in parking lot by the bridge where the homeless people live? Can we not sing and worship our God in a free speech area on a College campus? Can we not have an invitation at the mall at Christmas when flurried people definitely need the peace of Jesus. Can we not occasionally welcome children into our services and let them know they are loved and important and that Jesus knew they understood better than any of us ever could?
I don't know.
I don't have the answers.
What I do know is that I will spend this next year getting dirty and uncomfortable.
I will pass out blankets an hot chocolate downtown on Christmas Eve while my iPod plays Silent Night. I will serve food to those that live downtown trying to make a life for themselves. I will visit widows and orphans and take them cookies. I will put my arms around the sick and the hurting and love them. And if I occasionally need to do it on a Sunday or a Wednesday to have a little bit of church for some who is not going to go to church? So be it.
Ill do it alone if I have to because I feel personally called. But it would be great if we could have a complete body out there where the world needs it. Some hands? Some feet? Some hearts? Some tummies?
How about Body of Christ? Are we ready to get uncomfortable?