Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Behind the silence

O.k., here's a confession. While I have taken a long vacation, part of my silence on the blog is due to self-doubt. Do you go through those periods? I occassionally go through "what is this all about?" phases. Luckily they are short lived, generally. But seriously. Do you remember the Talking Head lyrics that say (I'm paraphrasing here) "This is not my beautiful wife... this is not my beautiful house." Wow, every once in a while I just take a step back and think "is this whole thing crazy? or a sham?" It isn't, of course. But I find it impossible to write anything in this space when that happens. I'm just bereft of ideas.

I think this is born of self-doubt. And part of me believes that this is sinful, even if entirely human. Sinful because times of such intense self-reflection seem selfish. It is hard to live for God and others when I am so self-absorbed. I wish I could always feel the Spirit working through me, by my side, guiding me. I often do, but there are those bumps in the road.

How do regular writers do it? Or does everyone have to take time off? Do you stop writing in your blog because of these periods? If not, what is it? Of course there's always the time thing. Those who have lots of family/work obligations can just find it hard to muster the time/energy to get to the keyboard.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Because we are hypocrites

I've heard quite a lot lately about the unchurched in our community, and the need to reach out to them. I'm all for it, I think it is a worthy effort. But I wonder...

Why are so many Protestants leaving their churches? Why are so many people without churches generally? Is it because they haven't yet heard the Word? Probably so, in some cases.  But could it also be due to the fact that they have seen/heard too many "Christians" who talk a big game and yet fail to alter their behaviors accordingly? That has been my own personal experience. I went through a period in my life when I did not attend, and it was primarily because I got tired of being in the midst of a sea of people exclaiming "I love Jesus"-- and who would then shoot you a nasty look for having taken their seat in the pews. How many people attending church on a given Sunday make a thoughtful, deliberate connection between what they say/hear/do in worship, and the rest of their lives? Maybe that's too big of a leap... how many make a connection between what they say/hear/do in worship and how they interact with others in the same worship service?

I remain convinced that the basic commandment to love others is beyond many of us, and frankly we just too often lack the will/energy to carry it out. In my reading of the New Testament, Christ often chided the Pharisees and Sadducees for being ever-mindful of the Law, yet not honoring the basic notions of loving God and fellow man. Are we really that much different? Don't we spend a lot of our time judging gays, those of other political beliefs, those who have a different opinion about social issues, those who abuse drugs, criminals, etc.? Do we spend more time trying to love others, or more time trying to identify and condemn those who are violating the "rules and regulations"?

Good things are in store for those we seek out the Message:
John 8:31, John 8:51

What is the message?
Matt 22:36-39, John 13:14, John 13:34, Matt 25:40

If there are people who are cynical about the church because it seems we are lost in the minutiae at the expense of missing the big picture (loving God and all fellow human beings), I don't have an answer for that. I don't think we're going to reel them in with Bible verses or slick worship services. I think they need to be exposed to people who are honestly, quietly, purposefully living out the faith. Unfortunately, the Pharisees and Sadducees are a louder bunch.

How about gathering a large group of believers together to do public works projects? Give them t-shirts to wear that simply say "A Christian" on the back. Or better yet, how about a simple cross. That might bring them in. I don't think words will work anymore... words are probably what have pushed many of these people away.