Church These Days

“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.

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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.

 

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One thought on “Church These Days

  1. Well, as you suggested, I would be able to experience your life, through your blog, without you updating a profile on facebook.

    So here it goes, Joe. Shit happens and be real about it. This is what attracts me to brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope you find what you are looking for in a church body. I have had to accept the fact that I will be that person in the church. Churches wont hire a man who admits from the pulpit his biological need, God given sexual need, to relieve himself by masturbation. I am not talking about porn watching, lust inducing, seeking the pleasure of orgasm, masturbation. I am talking about the – you were made to procreate, insatiable, physical craving the body naturally has to have sex. It’s not evil, wrong, unbiblical… If man wasn’t created with that need, there would be far fewer babies. Women, in general, are incredibly different while we too have insatiable natural sexual needs.

    I find the church, for various reasons, is unwilling to talk about what people need because shit happens and people are afraid to be real about it. I am scared too. I mean, what if everyone started sharing that they had a stressful week, that they were horny (hormone driven), and in the privacy of their home, with no props, rubbed one out. The thought makes me a little ill. I wouldn’t want to be having that conversation. At the same time, I think God made rubbing one out satisfying for our own well being.

    Now that I have shared this, this vulnerable taboo subject for most Christians, where do I go from here?

    Your family and some of your friends are going to think you are nuts. I think you are spot on. To what end? You are going to need to be the change you want to see in the church…. how do you like my Gandhi paraphrase? You will do it wrong, you will be criticized. But it isn’t any of your business what other folks think of you.It is going to be uncomfortable and fulfilling at the same to “be” that person”. The enemy will throw temptation into your life to take you out. I went for it, I followed the temptation… But I am back and mostly unafraid, confident in the Love and Grace of my Savior Jesus Christ. My capacity for self destruction is pretty remarkable. In realizing this, surrender to God, has become a personal necessity. I imagine this could happen to you as well but my hope is that it has happened. I think sometimes I recognize surrender in brothers and sister but find I am tripping on ego, how would I know??

    I love your rawness. You may be throwing pearls before swine. Put on the armor of God because it is rarely fun to have tomatoes thrown at your face. Also, if you can avoid it, I wouldn’t suggest that you use your personal name in an example that mentions the ‘m’ word. It’s horrifying. LOL. I am laughing and being honest at the same time.

    You are in my prayers, as one of my own kiddos, however, less so as biologically I have that natural mother thingy going on that tells me they need me for survival….

    Liked by 1 person

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