My ode to the church

Well, I had typed something about the church having fallen so far, and become so much like Babylon. *ahem* But then I decided that wasn’t edifying. Of course, I’m going to say some hard things that aren’t edifying. I want to put a small disclaimer first and simply tell everyone that my faith in Jesus, Messiah and King, is firm. I love him, and he will see me through all this life’s trials. But, well…sometimes I think he’s okay with me being open and honest.

So, my question is, where is the church? I mean, really, honestly…where is it? I see some individuals around who act like what the church is supposed to act like. I hope that I am getting close to acting like the church is supposed to act. But, in all truthfulness, I see painfully few people who act like the church. I’m not even talking about people being perfect. QUITE THE OPPOSITE! I’m not in the market for perfect Christians. I want messy, dirty, struggling Christians. I want heartbroken Christians. I want truly joyful Christians rejoicing in their savior. In short, I want real Christians.

I hate what we have become as Christians. I’m tired of it. I want something different. I want something more. Not more in terms of a savior, no he is all I need. But I want something more in terms of the church. I want something more. I’m simply tired.

What am I tired of? What causes me to have such a desire for real Christians? Well, we are so bent on being what we think the church is supposed to be we’ve overlooked what God says the church should be. Just this evening I was talking in church about obeying God. One student raised her hand and was like, “So we have to be perfect?” I then took the next five minutes to explain that perfect isn’t what God is looking for. God is looking for quite the opposite actually, people who are willing to admit they aren’t perfect. People who, when they do mess up(and we all do), will go to the person(s) they’ve wronged and confess. I think God want people who are willing to go to a group of friends and confide in them that life is tough, that they feel beat up, and that they just don’t know where to go. Or perhaps confess to that group of friends that they struggle with sin and need to be held accountable. But instead, we run when we sin, or when someone else sins we don’t confront, we just try to make peace.

Now, I have to be careful at this point. I don’t have a group of friends I can confide in. I have my wife(I love you soooooo much!), and my friend Len (you’re awesome man!). I also have another friend who I rarely talk to because we’re both so busy. So, that’s it. My other friends are friends, sure…but we just play the game with our happy faces. They don’t take off their masks, and I can’t take off mine because they would surely run. Now, I know what you’re thinking…”Practice what you preach! Take off your own mask(read: log in your eye) before telling your friends to take off theirs.” Perhaps you’re right. But I also know that many Christians simply aren’t ready for the radical reality I’m talking about. I mean, being real with each other. Instead of hiding behind words like, “I feel God wants me to…” Let’s get together and be the church by working through our problems. Yes it will be painful! Yes it will hurt! Yes we will want to just quit, but if we’re all open about it, maybe, just maybe we’ll end up being something at least slightly similar to what God intended. Obviously, if there is sin and someone is unwilling to repent it needs to be dealt with swiftly. But if people are willing to repent of sin, then please…repent! DON’T RUN! STOP LYING TO TRY TO KEEP THE PEACE! Be willing to say, “I just don’t feel like I can follow you,” or, “I just can’t serve here any longer.” I mean, honestly! Be the church! Be brothers and sisters. Stop lying. Stop playing into the games of the flesh. I only know one person who truly does such things. He’s pretty much been ostrisized (sp?) by the church. I mean, when you ask someone on Sunday morning, “How’re you?” do you really expect them to reply, “Well, I’ve really been struggling with some sin. Specifically I’ve just been harboring some really bitter thoughts about you because of the way I perceive you acting on stage. I’m sorry…I’m working on it. But yeah…” You’d probably never ask that person how they were doing again. No, it’d be much easier to go on in ignorance. To simply avoid such conversation in the future. Yep, let’s just pretend we’re all perfect, living in our perfect little world. Then we wonder why our churched teens go out and have sex before their married, or shoot themselves, or end up in a drug induced coma from a massive OD even though they have Jesus. It’s because they don’t have each other. For crying out loud people, why don’t we open our blasted ears and listen, let me quote an artist:

It’s a damn cold night
trying to figure out this life
take me by the hand
take me somewhere new
I don’t know who you are
but I’m, I’m with you.

You know what, it is pretty damn cold out alone. When we have to struggle through life…alone because the Church of God wants to continue pretending. I’m not a teen anymore, but being twenty is still pretty hard. We have churched teens who are in plenty of pain but put on the happy face, or the popular face, or the church face whenever they head out on Wednesday nights because they don’t know how else to act. Because they know that if they took the chance at being real they’d probably be rediculed or given some pat answer like, “trust in God.” Well duh! How else do you think we’ve gotten as far as we have! We’re only hanging on by a thread and we could really use some help…but since we’re all pretending why don’t we just pretend like I never typed the last two paragraphs! *ahem* Okay, I’m better now…moving on.

So then, my question becomes…is there any hope for the church? I mean, is there any hope of being real with each other? Of being honest? Of stopping the lies? Of loving each other and God together in community? As I look around the prospects appear bleak. The modern church that tried so hard to get guitars in the worship center is dying. The emergent church is headed down the same path the generation before them tried. So, what of the western church? Perhaps my wishes are too high for even those people indwelt by the living God himself. But to say such a thing seems almost to be blaspheme. Surely, somewhere, somehow there must be those people who are willing to throw off the masks and say, honestly, that they are sinful, flawed human beings who have done wrong on many counts but want to make it better. Aren’t there some of us out there? Probably, but we’re all too afraid to let the masks slip for fear of slipping infront of the wrong person and being caught, being…Christians.

As profound as I think that last sentence was, let me leave with this song…perhaps if we’d all just realize the last three lines to be true we might make a step in the right direction:

Imperfection by: Skillet

You’re worth so much
It’ll never be enough
To see what you have to give
How beautiful you are
Yet seem so far from everything
You’re wanting to be
You’re wanting to be

Tears falling down again
Tears falling down

You fall to your knees
You beg, you plead
Can I be somebody else
For all the times I hate myself?
Your failures devour your heart
In every hour, you’re drowning
In your imperfection

You mean so much
That heaven would touch
The face of humankind for you
How special you are
Revel in your day
You’re fearfully and wonderfully made
You’re wonderfully made

Tears falling down again
Come let the healing begin

You fall to your knees
You beg, you plead
Can I be somebody else
For all the times I hate myself?
Your failures devour your heart
In every hour, you’re drowning
In your imperfection

You’re worth so much
So easily crushed
Wanna be like everyone else
No one escapes
Every breath we take
Dealing with our own skeletons, skeletons

You fall to your knees
You beg, you plead
Can I be somebody else
For all the times I hate myself?
Your failures devour your heart
In every hour, you’re drowning
In your imperfection

Won’t you believe, yeah
Won’t you believe, yeah
All the things I see in you

You’re not the only one
You’re not the only one
Drowning in imperfection

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3 thoughts on “My ode to the church

  1. Calvin, I know what you’re talking about. From what I can see, the thing we’re not willing to do in The Church of America ™
    is probably the thing that would most separate us from our own culture: sincerity, trust, love, etc. Personally, I find it near to impossible to confide in anyone with my problems. It’s been like that all my life man. But the one thing I long for has been belonging and the ability to confide in others. This world is cold and individualistic, and unfortunately the church holds to that same tendancy. But we are the ones that recognize the problem, and we are the ones to make a difference.

  2. Hey friend,

    I have found more authentic Christianily in the house church settings than in any other but there is postively NO escaping sin and deceit and eventual and occassional disappointments.

    Some cannot stand the intimacy of being that close – still, you might look into it. Lots of stuff on the web.House Church Network

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