Christians, I think we have a lot of growing to do!
It’s embarrassing to admit that I can totally relate to the awkwardness featured in that video. For a period of my life, before I settled into Catholicism, I was a seeker. I visited a lot of brands of Christianity and tried to find a community that seemed like they were on fire for Jesus, service and social justice in the ways I wanted to be.
It was a lot of fun to bounce into worship services and jump up and down for Jesus. X-games athletes might have used the events as warm-ups. There were quiet times, too. It was fascinating to attend Bible studies after Christian yoga. I confronted pastors and asked hard questions then went home with a cool new bracelet and a headache.
My church-hopping days were adventurous. Certainly, they were also confusing and painful. I was pretty young and I didn’t yet understand what I was experiencing or feeling. I couldn’t even describe what I was looking for, but now I know it was something deep, lasting and radical.
Sometimes my searching brought me to Christian churches where I tried to find an easy escape because there was more of a cult-like mood than a Christ-like one. It scared me a lot. In general, whenever I am around groups that are very focused on themselves- and getting more people to be like them- I become concerned.
True, Christ told us to baptize others and bring more into the flock. It seems to me, though, that if we were to truly live the gospel by working for justice and peace and loving and including all, then expansion would be natural.
But all Christians- myself included- can grow and improve as we seek to live the gospel. As we try, we must keep looking in the mirror and paying attention to the realities we create.
I wonder: When we’ve been stuck in tunnel for a long time, how could we ever know when our vision has become too narrow? Can we be trapped in a cave of comfortableness without even knowing it? How many times do new people get creeped out when they come to our churches? Do our lingo and ways make people feel awkward instead of at home?
I pray often that we can have open hearts and minds. I pray that we don’t get stuck in what’s comfortable for us and become stubborn about our convictions.
Like the disciples, we don’t really have a clue about where we’re going and what we’re up to.
Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” -John 14:5-7
I pray that we freely understand and follow Jesus, The Way, instead of our own worldly and churchy ways. I pray that as we continually look around and let the Spirit guide us, we still have bold faith and deep trust in God. I pray that we can let go of what we’re used to when it’s no longer helpful. I think it’s healthy to do this as individuals and as communities.
I pray that we become authentically loving Christ-like communities of inclusion, peace and justice. I pray that our responses to seekers are kind and real. I pray that modern Christianity looks more like this: