Wednesday, April 16, 2014

when I go to church

When I go to church, I feel lonely.  It's not the people.  I have friends there, and even the people who aren't friends are nice enough.  When people go to church, though, they morph into something I'm familiar with but no longer can emulate very well.  They become Religious.

When I go to church, opinion becomes absolute truth.  My friends often say things that I disagree with, but in most situations their opinions are harmless, just one opinion in a kaleidoscope of opinions.  In most situations I can light-heartedly disagree.  At church, their opinions come stamped with the Approval of God.  We pray for our pastors to speak Only God's Words and expect that God will hear our prayers.

When I go to church, I go with a wounded heart.  I've had too many moments in life where pastors said untrue, sometimes even horrific things under this Stamp of Divine Approval.  Most of the time the falsehood is pretty benign, until it's not.  Until it destroys.

When I go to church, I am reminded of my difference.  I have come to embrace ambiguity and questions, post-modern thought and uncertainty.  I find God in the what-ifs.  It is an unbridgeable gap.  We don't talk about God in the same language.  The people I love the most understand God in doctrines and equations and diagrams.  I understand him in the questions.  I read the Gospels and wonder "what if?"  They see proofs and evidence, heaven and hell and salvation.

When I go to church, I remind myself that I wouldn't have it any other way.  The people I love the most in this world are evangelicals.  I was raised evangelical; the heart of an evangelical still beats strongly inside me.  I wouldn't trade this away for a "liberal" church, there the tension would only be reversed.  

When I go to church, I find God.  I find a strange comfort in the familiarity of easy answers, in the neat diagrams and in all of the cliches and asking-Jesus-into-your-hearts.  It is in the tension between "them" and "me" that I find the context for my questions; my questions come out of a lifetime of living and breathing the brand of Absolute Truth that insists that American Christianity's conception of God is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  

When I go to church, God speaks through the pastor.  God's words aren't usually the pastor's words; but God cannot be stopped.  Praise God.

When I go to church, God heals my wounded heart.  I find myself drawing near to God to find my identity and my strength.  It is in community that I am reminded that God is the only One I follow, but that I can't follow Him alone.