I’ve been asking a lot of questions lately about church. Although I’ve visited a handful, I’ve really only been a member of two churches in the last 18 years. For some reason, asking questions in the church about the church tends to put folks on the defensive. But, I’m a curious person. I ask questions about everything. And I believe jumping on the defensive often means a person isn’t as secure in what they’re doing as they thing they are. Otherwise, wouldn’t questions be welcomed?
Anyway, the biggest question I’ve asked is, “What should church look like?” Did Jesus really die on a cross so we could find our favorite pew and settle into it for a nice sermon? Did He come down from heaven to become one of us so we could then shut our doors on those that resemble what we used to be? Did He really mean for us to become elitist and try to conform everyone to our standard of living?
I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that church is bad. (Although I’m making it sound that way.) And, I’m not saying we shouldn’t go. And, I readily admit that it hasn’t been so long since I’ve been pretty comfortable just going to church and being a lump.
But, I think there’s so much more. I think we’re missing the point.
So. I’ve been asking these questions. And I’ve seen a few churches who seem to be getting it right or are at least asking the right questions. Some of these churches are “home based” and aren’t about the building or the pews, they’re about the people.
The Bible says when we seek God we will find Him. I think that means also that when we ask questions, He will answer them. Not always in ways we expect or even want, but He will answer.
Which brings me back to my big question in life right now…..the church question. And I think He gave me an answer, of sorts, in the most unlikely place. Therapy.
Not…”tell me your problems” therapy, physical therapy. I have issues with my hands. Years of using them in ways I probably shouldn’t have taken their toll and I have the meds and big black braces to prove it. And…I have to go to physical therapy. Yuck.
Before we go any further, let me tell you about the physical therapy room. It’s small. And they typically have at least half a dozen people crammed in, all doing different stuff. Since it’s small, they also utilize hallways and any other free space they can for the folks whose therapy requires space. Add to that the three….no, four….tables, a couple of bikes, 5 or 6 chairs, and other assorted equipment and you can imagine that space is tight. And privacy? Ha! Nonexistant.
So, as I sat in my first physical therapy appointment, with all these people around me, I noticed that some of their therapy seemed quite easy to me. I mean….how hard is it to walk down a hall??? But, clearly, as they were limping and wincing, it wasn’t easy to them. Then, as the physical therapist had me doing things with my hands that made my face scrunch up in pain, I thought, “why can’t I just walk down the hall like her?” Well, the obvious answer is that my legs work fine, they don’t need help. It’s my hands that need help. What seems easy to me, is hard for others. But, as I sit playing with my putty (which HURTS!), I hear someone behind me saying, “I want to play with putty!” Of course, we all are noticing that what the other person is doing seems easy. We were all dealing with different types of injuries. But, there was more.
There was no judgement. Only encouragement.
We all have flaws, hangups, problems. Every.single.one.of.us. But, what I’ve seen in many traditional churches is that we’re expected to get it all right. Without help. And you’re likely to be scorned, ridiculed, rebuked if your “thing” comes to light.
In therapy, it’s okay that the lady who just had knee surgery can’t walk up and down the ladder yet. That’s why she’s there. It’s okay that a one pound weight is all I can handle with my hands. That’s why I’m there. It’s okay that the teen with the shoulder injury can’t quite reach above her head. That’s why she’s there. To get better.
Isn’t church supposed to be the same way? Shouldn’t that be the safest place for us to display our flaws? Shouldn’t we be encouraging and loving each other through it and to the next level, rather than shaming them into hiding it?
Yes, I think so.
Which brings me, again, back to the question…What should church look like?
Well, I think it should look a little like my physical therapy room. Full of love and encouragement.
Yes, I know that’s simplifying it a bit. But, think about it….sometimes, wouldn’t simpler be better?
Be blessed and tell someone you love them.