Things I always am-
Things I frequently am-
Worship singer, writer, director
Things I often am-Insecure,fearful,learning,waiting,curious
Things I never am-Confident,driven,demanding,nasty
April 11,1976, Jesus Christ, baby in the stable, Savior on Good Friday and Risen God on Easter exploded into my life in much the same way a fiance might claim-“When I saw him it was like a lightening bolt!” Jesus sought me, called me and with what seemed like a shout of SURPRISE!! at a birthday party - He came bursting into my life and turning it upside-down & inside out.
Then began the journey of following and surrendering one’s life, desires, and dreams to another person. A person filled with love, forgiveness, cleansing, wisdom, strength, kindness, happiness, goodness and grace. And of course comfort. In the places I most needed healing, HE would freely give all the comfort I could ever need.
On that same day, I began another simultaneous journey. Trying to live with and in the body of Christ or more to the point THE CHURCH. It’s a really good thing that no one prepares you for this. Not even growing up in a church prepares you for what will happen to you as an adult. I believe it’s probably wise that it is not explained to “new believers” or “old believers”. You really need to be of sturdier stuff before church begins to happen to you. And happen it will. If you stay at one church for a long time or even if you go to a few different ones for short stays-it’s gonna happen. I lived in the bubble of denial for many, many years. Of course, I heard people say- No church is perfect. I would nod my head in agreement. No church is perfect-that makes sense. God is the head of the church and no one church can possibly meet and satisfy all our needs. I gave this truth all the mental assent I could muster and was happy as a clam for quite awhile.
A never ending, ever changing list of principles were added that was proof positive that you were in fact “serious with the Lord”. It mattered little that clergy and staff was exempt. Member value was determined by their giving record. Cashed up people were given leadership positions. Family was hired. Godly people fired. Pastors found in immorality disappeared in the night. Church discipline over minutia, and flagrant sin over looked because the person was needed.
You can choose to stay and live out your christianity in ”no church is perfect mode” or keep your distance so as to never get close enough to be used or abused again. But which ever way you decide to cope with the problem of church-there will be a problem with church. Leaders hire who they like, hire friends from college, grad school or from their last job. Staff members use those with the same taste and opinions. Sure, there’s praying going on. God help us, show us your will, give us the mind of Christ, but in the end, a human being has to make a decision. Humans drive every department- sunday school, missions, outreach, music, deacons, elders. Even if these are sincere men and woman, it’s deep in the race to surround yourself with people who will support your vision or lack of vision. Really, who wants someone who’s telling you “You need to do better”, “Last week was tight but this week, you were on autopilot” So we hire and advance people we like and if we just don’t particularily like them we use the always popular-“I don’t think they have the right attitude, I question their motives”.
When people realize this they either stay in CHURCH because it’s their lifestyle and their friends are there. Or, they throw up their hands in disgust and leave declaring christians are all fakes, phonies and unfortunately they have proof in spades. We all do. Sad but true.
For years this filled me with doubt and dispair. Then a few months ago I had had enough. So I loudly asked God “Why would you do this?” “Why would you deliberately set up YOUR CHURCH this way and leave it in our deceitful hands”? “God, THIS was the best way to spread Your gospel”? “Why leave Your reputation in the hands of sinners-saved yes, but still, the perfect God with the perfect redemption plan carried out thru the perfect Savior, left in the hands of the very people who need Your redemption EVERYDAY? I’m sorry God, this is crazy-we are always going to fail. You’ve entrusted perfection to imperfection.” Beauty for ugly. Wisdom for wickedness. Selflessness for self-absorbtion. Strength for stress, Sinlessness for sanctimonious sinners. Divinity for dung.
The seasons brought another Christmas, a live nativity reveals His wisdom. Christmas lights and choir members outside in flurries as in a snowglobe. The old carols sung thru frozen lips. The perfect story, read from the ancient scriptures. Kings and innkeepers. Angels and shepherds. Expectant girl and expected God. He left everything behind to wear our flesh. He indwells the dark corner of our souls. He embraces the depth of our loneliness. Baptized into our brokeness. The divine in the dirty stable of our hearts and minds. Purity in the perverse. An intentional God entrusted the church with this story. We are the reality that The Creator still is born daily in HIS creation. We keep the beauty of the incarnation alive, everyday, in every imperfect follower of His Son. In every imperfect church. He is, to this very moment…Savior in our own stable