I was on my way to the grocery store. We need stuff.
But instead I pull into the driveway and park myself here at this kitchen table.
I’m not talking about alcohol, sex, or politics.
I’m not talking about homeschooling, private or public.
I’m not talking about long skirts, long hair or long services.
I’m not talking about small groups, serving or tithing.
I’m not talking about baptism, worship style or praying (in tongues or in your native language).
I’m not talking about the lingo, the liturgy or Lent.
I’m not talking about denominations, traditions or opinions.
Honestly, I’m tired of talking about it.
I believe church is a big deal. All the teaching, community and disciplines of Christianity are important but when I lack authentic love for others….people outside my bubble, my sphere of comfort, my world view…all my lingo, service and check writing is just being churchy.
Oh, I know how to be churchy.
I was the best at church when my whole world was church. Everyone, just about, in my world was a Christian. Thought like me, talked like me, generally behaved by the same moral code as me. Then about a year and a half ago I went back to nursing in an ICU. My heart is torn often. I see things that disturb me. Things I can’t always shake off when I badge out.
I remember the woman clinging to me after saying good-bye for the last time. I hear the words of disoriented addicts screaming at me, calling me names and cursing at me. I feel, under my fingertips, the scars of a cutter. I see myself standing close by as frightened grandchildren take in the tubes, machines and limp body of a favorite grandparent. I hear the echo of my own words whispered to the one who has no grieving family, only nurses and doctors to care if they live or die. Sometimes I bask in the victory of pulling a smile from the angry one, the bitter one, the scary one.
I’m confronted with pain and the realities of what I say I believe.
Being relevant without authentic love and compassion for others renders us irrelevant. Nothing I say I believe really means anything unless it’s real outside of the walls of my church. Who I really am you can never know from a Sunday morning.
Jesus was so amazing. The way He interacted with people. The way He really cared about them. He engaged others because He was truly interested in and loved them without an agenda and criteria of proof for them to meet. He knew that compassion and God’s unconditional love are the most powerful forces that can be aimed at the wounded or sinning heart.
Thank you, Jesus, for shattering my spiritual pride again and again. Thank you for giving me the chance to see what your love can do…thank you for breaking me apart when I’m hard…thank you for this core discontent with the artificial. I’m rough and ragged and all I can do is ask for your love to wash over me and then touch the people I encounter.