That’s the phrase that comes to my mind when I think about Christianity today. Not a good kind of worn out … not like the kind of broken in jeans you buy that never lose their fit and always seem to feel like you’ve worn them for years. Not that kind of worn out at all.
Worn out in the sense of tired. In the sense of, “I’ve heard it before and it didn’t really matter then, either.” It lacks surprise. It’s founded on the tired sermons of preachers who care more about their sermons and the contribution than the issues surrounding them. I know that sounds judgmental, and maybe it is. Regardless, it’s true. It’s defined by cold, cookie-cutter worship environments. It’s intimidated by anything new. It holds on desperately to old habits, and old ways.
Over the past couple of years, I kept reading in Scripture, and hearing in music, and discovering in conversations a new sort of Christianity. Actually, it’s not new at all … it just seems new. It’s a sort of un-defined movement of grace, hope, and truth. It’s carried on the shoulders of those who seek to make things right. It’s a collaboration of creativity and action. It runs to prisons and embraces alcoholics. It is being poured out in passionate worship and quiet prayer. It’s in those stories that I re-discovered (and continue to discover) Jesus.
Rarely had I found Jesus in the church services I had attended over the years.
For a while, I thought that something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I “get” out of the service what other people were “getting?” Why was it that I was never settled, never content with what so many people seemed content with? I’ve vented, I’ve searched, I’ve asked, I’ve vented again … and the only response I got from the “institution” of Christianity was correction and guilt.
I was preached at. I was lectured. I was written about. I was un-invited to speak at things. I was black-listed. I was “reached out to.” I was lectured more. Grace, it seems, was only for our conversions and not for our conversations.
I tell you all of this to say …
Jesus will never be confined to a tired, worn-out system. He will never be held back by our small definitions of His name and His work. He’s on the side of those who fail … of those who are close to giving up, and have made regrettable decisions. He’s pursuing something new, something different, for this world. He has not given up, He has not left the scene. And, He’s not waiting to blow this place up.
Nope. He’s in the business of creating new things. Of making alive things out of dead things. Of making something out of nothing.
So when our churches present something different, there’s a problem. Maybe the world will take us more seriously if we are actually offering solutions rather than preaching about how dark the darkness is. Maybe they’d be more apt to listen if we had something interesting to talk about. And if you, too, don’t fit the system … take heart. Jesus didn’t fit the system either.
Let’s join together and be a part of something new. Something beautiful.
If you’d like to join the conversation … how has an encounter/experience outside of a church service shaped the way you think about Jesus and His mission?
Note: This is not triggered by any specific event … just an outpouring of my heart. I seek to be honest, transparent, non-religious in this blog. I have discovered several churches which are beautiful expressions of Jesus and His mission, and I am deeply thankful for such places. But, I’m tired of passionless religion claiming to be “the Church.” I think it’s time to rise up and distance ourselves from that … with grace.