There is so much noise in the world today.
Especially on the internet.
Everyone has an opinion, and everyone can share their unfiltered thought with the world in an instant (I realize the irony here). There is a part of me that wants to abandon it all together for some quiet. But I keep sifting through all the opinions because there is some gold buried in the mud. However, lately it seems like there is more mud and less gold. And the mud is increasingly negative, cynical, and pessimistic.
My soul needs something more. I need to hear something beside the criticism.
Today, I need to hear that the church is good and beautiful.
Cheap shots at the church are a dime a dozen. Entire platforms have been built by individuals dragging the bride of Christ through the mud because she is fifteen years behind culture, too feminine, too traditional, too concerned with morals, too cheesy about it’s t-shirts. But I don’t care. I love the church.
There’s a good reason all of the above is true about the church. For starters, the church is fifteen years behind culture because the church isn’t a millennial, it’s too feminine because most of the people who show up and serve are women, too traditional because many of us grew up and love singing “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and too moralistic because morals matters.
I can’t come up with a good reason for the t-shirts. For that we just need to apologize.
Listen, the church isn’t perfect. I get that. But I don’t need another blog post about the imperfections of the church. I need one that reminds me about why the church is beautiful. About how my idealism surrounding the Bride of Christ is deserved. Everyone wants to flip the tables. “Tear down this temple,” they cry, but no one is offering to rebuild it.
I need a few more people willing to rebuild the church.
Today, I need to hear that following Jesus isn’t about certainty.
It seems faith has been replaced by certainty. Doubt has been demonized, questions deemed unsavory, and uncertainty heretical.
We live in a day an age where what we can prove is believed. Certainty has become a manner of proof. Evidence of our rightness. And the best way to make sure people believe you is to be loud about your certainty.
I have just enough questions to keep me from being too loud. Too certain.
Sometimes I find myself questioning my goodness as a pastor/Christian because of my questions.
“If I was a good pastor I wouldn’t have these questions.”
“Real questions don’t hang out in the middle of issues like this, seeing both sides of the issue and waffling back and forth.”
“‘Faith is being certain of what we do not see.’ If I’m not all the certain, and sometimes have unbelief, does that mean I do not have faith?”
Faith and certainty are not the same thing, this I know. In fact, there is no room for faith when one is certain. Faith is completely irrelevant when our dogma’s are cocksure.
But I wonder if we haven’t made certainty an idol. In some regards, I would rather have certainty than faith. It’s easier. The more I follow Jesus the more I believe that faith is not the absence of struggle but the struggle itself. The struggle to still believe in spite of feeling God hasn’t delivered on his promises. The struggle to tenaciously believe that I am enough. The struggle to believe God could love me in Christ. The struggle to not let go. The struggle to let faith be faith.
I need a few more people willing to let go of certainty and struggle with me.
Today, I need to know that I am not what I produce.
The content I create – sermons, blog posts, articles, books – are so much a part of who I am. They are my beliefs, my hopes, my thoughts, my stories. But they are not me.
I get caught up thinking my worth and value is found in how much I produce. Taking a Sabbath day has always been hard for me. Rest of any kind has been a struggle. Here’s how hard it is for me: I hate naps. Hate them. I feel like they are a waste of time. During that hour or two, I could have mowed the lawn, fixed something, crossed of an item on my to-do list, done some work on the next book – the list is endless. And if I don’t do any of those things, I’ve squandered my time.
That’s what I’d have you believe. The truth is, under my desire to make good use of my time, is the belief that I am what I produce. And if I don’t produce enough, I am not enough. Not for you. Not for God.
I need to know that I am enough.
Today, I need to know that Jesus isn’t a Rorschach test.
Everybody has the “real Jesus”. Have you noticed that? Progressives have the real Jesus who is about justice and peace and equality; Conservatives have the real Jesus who is about morality and obedience and judgement. Jesus is pointed to by sides as the reason for their stance, and Jesus is used by both sides to show why the other side gets Jesus wrong.
We sure do seem to be using Jesus a lot.
I’ve come to believe that Jesus is much more complex than we like to admit. It is completely possible to make Jesus fit whatever agenda you have. Want Jesus to be a progressive? Done. How about a conservative? Piece of cake. A founding father of America? Why not! With a little cherry-picking, Jesus can be whatever we want him to be.
I need to know that we don’t get to decide who Jesus is. I need him to transcend tribes. I need him to call me to transcend petty tribalism.
I need to know I conform to him. I do not need Jesus to conform to me.
This list could go on. But I’ll end it here.
Today, I need to know I’m not alone.