A few days ago I posted a story I wrote about what a modern Christmas might look like. Those thoughts really jaded my Christmas church experience, though I wonder if I’m just too cynical or if I’m truly disillusioned with the faults of the modern church.
On Christmas Eve we dressed up with the family and headed to church. A lot of my complaints stem from differences between a liturgical-based service and the more traditional free-flowing service I grew up with. But aside from those differences, I was just put off by how cliche Christianity has become. We sing about the Messiah finally coming and spending his first night on a bed of hay, and it just rolls off our back as part of the story. It doesn’t seem odd or challenging or amazing or any of the things it’s supposed to be.
Later in the service we sang about the dumb speaking, the lame walking, and the leper rejoicing. Those mean nothing to us. We say we believe in a Messiah who can make wheelchairs obsolete, but do we really believe it? This Messiah hangs with AIDS patients, why don’t we? The mentally handicapped that speak in slurs and we avoid, this Messiah approached them and brought healing. We can’t even approach them, much less think our God would heal them.
And then comes the fact that we dressed up for the evening. We dressed up to come to church, which is completely contrary to everything that Christ came for. It seems so right that we should put on our best before God. I’ve thought that many times in my life. But do we ever think how that appears to God? We are crap, and somehow a nice shirt and tie is going to make everything OK? God asks us to come as we are, not to dress ourselves up and pretend that everything is cool. God approaches us as we are in our brokenness, which is the very foundation of our faith, yet we’d rather tidy ourselves up to come to church.
We’re denying our faith, and what’s worse, we’re driving people away because we refuse to accept them as they are. So many people are hurting in this world, just needing to be loved as they are. If only the church was doing our job these hurting folks would find welcoming arms in church, instead of judging eyes.
So many people who are put off by God are actually put off by Christians who despite all their claims don’t know anything about God.
My only prayer is that I can stop pretending to know anything about God and allow God to reveal himself in me.