“Good morning. I’m Joe, the pastor here. I watched pornography and masturbated several times last week. I wasn’t a good listener and spaced out several times while some of you told me about your current life situations as well. I know I have this job, but I struggled feeling like I have a direction in life and became quite angry about it.”
Had I my own church, this is more or less how I’d start my sermons.
Church and I haven’t been the best of pals recently. For the past few months, my girlfriend and I have been on a church hunt. For what we believe to be good an healthy reasons, we finally tossed in the towel a few days ago and kissed Sunday church goodbye for the time being.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of church. You can’t live a life full of grace without deep, rich relationships, and I believe those relationships can come from a church community. I think this place will pass soon and God will reveal a good community for us to move into, but that time isn’t now.
Rebekah (the girlfriend) and I (the boyfriend) were talking the other day about what we expect out of church when a thought came to me. “So I’m definitely seeing what I’m not wanting in a church community, but what is it that I do want? If I were to walk in a church right now, what could happen that would keep me coming back?”
Well, a sermon I’d like to hear would sound something like this:
“Good morning. I’m *whoever*, and here’s why I’m unqualified to preach this gospel to you.
*proceeds to confess*
Thankfully, there is grace. Grace that says we can’t qualify for the love we’ve been offered, and also for the love we should offer each other. Give as you have been given.
I believe in perfect Christians in the way I believe in unicorns – I don’t. Cause they don’t exist. I denounce perfect Christianity and declare it blasphemous. I denounce this expectation so many of us put on ourselves to measure up in the eyes of our Christ. You can’t, nor do you need to, so don’t bother.
This isn’t a place for perfect people. Grace isn’t for perfect people. ‘Hold up, isn’t grace for everyone?! Burn him at the stake!’ Don’t get your underwear in a knot, yes grace is for everyone. But perfect people don’t need grace – which is why perfect people always wind up needing an abundance of grace to help heal from their perfection.
Topic switch. You know what happens, guys? Shit happens. Shit happens pretty regularly, actually. There’s some awful things that have happened to you people. And you know what? I’m not even going to put a “but…” in here. You know, like “but God is good” or “but God has a plan.” Yeah those are true, but they’re also awful excuses to not deal with the horrible things that have happened to you.
Did you get angry? Getting angry can be necessary, even getting angry at God. Jeez, most of the times I’ve felt closest to God is after I spent an hour screaming my lungs out at him. I wouldn’t want to worship a God I couldn’t be honest about my feelings with. Maybe down the road I’ll mature to a point where I won’t need to have outbursts like that, but God meets me where I’m at and I’m thankful.
No hoakiness. No gloss, no sugar-coating. Shit happens. Be upset about it. Please be upset about it because we, as your community, need you to be real. Need. I’d have italicized that last “need” to stress it’s importance, but I can’t cause I’m talking and the dude writing this is doing it in all italics and slightly regretting it right now.
Anyway, back on topic. Yeah, we need you to be real. Because true community can’t happen without vulnerability. That’s why I started this sermon with a confession, so you would think ‘huh, you know that guy’s not really any different from me!’ Cause I’m not. We’re all in this life together, so let’s live this life together.
In summary: don’t be perfect, shit happens, and be real about it.
Now lets all go get omelettes together.”
Yeah. That’s what I’d want to hear.