Or better titled, “That Time I Shouted for Jesus from the Pulpit.”
I remember two years ago standing before a church congregation as I told them the truth about where I had wandered while attempting to be a good Christian & Missionary Alliance church girl. That was the denomination of my teens and early adulthood, but you can insert your church name/denomination if you need to because it all comes out the same in the wash.
The church needs a rare, brave authenticity that is so much bigger than the plastic witness His sons & daughters have settled for being.
I stood there in the spot where my father stands every week.
And I wondered aloud, “Why do you go here? Because our motives matter.”
I shared what if feels like when faith hurts, when you do all the right Christian, good girl things, but finally realize how far you have wandered from the type of follower God wants you to be. Hint: she doesn’t look like a good CMA christian girl.
There are parts of our walk with Jesus – if we are brave enough to get out of the shallow end of the pool – that will leave us feeling drowned and flooded over.
It will hurt like hell.
As I offered my story I watched a woman and her daughter in the back row.
- She scowls and then turns to her daughter and laughs.
- She mocks and then turns to her daughter and laughs.
- She frowns and fidgets and refuses to engage…
Which is perfectly OK… don’t engage, you do not have to be present.
To be honest though they spent the whole message laughing and picking like two junior high girls at lunch.
It felt familiar.
It felt like a middle school cafeteria…
- the rejects weeping
- the encouragers smiling
- the sorrowful sorrow-filled
- the bullies mocking
- the plotters silent and searing and waiting for the kill
And I could feel a holy rage start to build.
The more disrespectful they became the louder I got.
The bigger the smiles on the encourager’s faces the braver I got.
The deeper the tears… the heavier the sorrow… the thicker the spinning webs.
Before long I was shouting for Jesus…
And I wondered how pastors do this every week.
- How do they stand up and face the believing, but unbelieving?
- How do they stand up and teach the unhearing?
- How do they stand up and share their hearts and lives with those who refuse to see and believe and be healed?
How can you minister when people are the same way they have always been – decades later there is no change or difference?
And they are OK with that?
How do you walk with people who insist on being the old creation – instead of grasping with all their lives for the new creations they can become in Christ?
How do you navigate people who refuse to get out of the shallow end of the pool?
I was forceful…Because God is so much bigger than we allow him to be.
He can only be as big in your life as you let him. He can only be as big in your church as you allow him to be. He does not force His way forward with you.
He is NOT held back by you – and yes, He surprises us with his abundant provision, presence, and love. His enough is expansive.
But if your heart and life and church towards Him is set – he is not going to force it.
You can either sit there and laugh him off or you can get off your ass and get real.
You can sit there and deny that things are amiss or get real about all the ways you have settled for half a life when you could of had the whole, abundant thing.
You can get out of the shallow end of the pool – or sit on the deck.
But the deep waters are where he calls from.
He wants us to join him in those deep places.
The choice is always yours… mine… ours
Shouting Obscenities at Jesus
We do not like to talk about faith like that – with words that scream and whine and swear.
We cringe away from the obscenity that shouts foul at God and man and the twisting of life.
We do not want to go near the gut wrenching anguish of dark passageways where despair permeates the air and makes you feel as if God is silent.
Where the only words you can find are ones that curse because…
Sometimes heaven is eerily quiet.
We don’t want to talk about how much a life with Jesus hurts. We refuse to engage it.
There are religious ostriches who would lead you to believe that walking with God shouldn’t hurt as long as you have faith – face everything with gladness and gratitude.
Gratitude doesn’t make our walk with God sting less – instead it provides us with a lens for interpreting the pain.
I’ve watched Christians…
Fake it till they make it.
Just learn to play the game – play people, play family, play church, play God.
Show up every week and look the part.
This is all horseshit.
They would lead you to believe that your pain – can be easily overcome if you pray the right words and go to the right church or give enough money and believe the right things all while claiming and expecting that miracle you deserve.
They skip right over the part where if you are seeking after the things of Jesus – you are going to be uncomfortable and often.
Because the Kingdom of God things do not easily fit in this world.
We are not easily molded into the image of Christ.
There is a good part of us that will always fight the “Imago Dei” – the image of God within us.
The plastic is comfortable… Jesus Skin is awkward and haunting and REAL FLESH.
We do anything we can to avoid the real flesh.
We like to sit in the shallow end of the pool – there are no waves.
Here’s a hint about the shallow end… it’s like the baby pool.
If you have babies and toddlers you know why it isn’t a good idea to wade around in there. Waterlogged swim diapers only hold in so much filth.
Get out of the shallow end of the evangelical pool… the deep places are worth it.