Monday, 11 January 2016

From the Archives 2011: Weird and wacky 'Christian lifestyle' choices in ten simple dot points.

Let's be honest - Christians are a bit weird. I've grown up in church, been to Christian schools, worked in different ministries and have had an extreme over-exposure to the Christian lifestyle in general. I'm actually kind of over it. Not over Jesus - He is a totally rocking guy who had some amazing ideas and messages to share with the world. What I am over is Christianese, over people making the gospel and its message into something all about them, their needs, thoughts, etc etc. So I thought, tonight being Christmas, I'd share some of the stuff I find... well... a little bit weird.

1. fellowship
Why can't we just call it friendship? Sure, there is a spiritual side to the friendship we have with one another, but then if that's how we view it, we can turn something like a friendship into something which allows others to speak into our spiritual lives, and quite frankly, this isn't always the best idea. It can be hard to draw the line from what is Biblical and what is just your personal opinion. It also becomes difficult when people wish (or attempt) to mentor you when this was never God's intention. I've seen people leave the church over this - it is pretty serious. I think we need to be more definite in what people's place is in our spiritual lives.

2. romance
I always feel weird being a single Christian girl, and sometimes being a taken Christian girl is even weirder. if you're not taken, people assume it's because you've taken some great call to be single (not likely kids), and if you are then the questions are: when will you get engaged/married/pregnant? It would be terrible to do such a thing in the wrong order! As someone who grew up in the Joshua Harris generation (aka: blinded to reality) - I am yet to blink when someone announces their engagement after 4 months of "courting" but part of me thinks I should be concerned... yet I'm not, despite my own experience in this area. Of course we are not to judge (after all, this is why I'm writing the top ten list), but why is this so accepted?!

3. sex
The problem with lots of literature out there is that sex is built up to be some great pinnacle of a relationship. Yes, it is a sacred act, there is no denying that. On the other hand, making rules, boundaries and promises can often lead to heartache, discouragement and disappointment. These things are important in all relationships, including sexual ones. However, people don't suddenly become sexual creatures when they get married. I don't want to get blurry on this one - make your own choices, and don't follow what some book says. Study the scriptures for yourself. Song of Solomon does make for juicy reading after all.

4. church stuff
(I've only really just started to like church again in the last month or so - it has taken me a really long time to soften my heart towards church life in general.)ANYWAY. Church is good.Christian friendships are good. Being told you need to commit to 20 gazillion church things is not. If I had it my way I'd be at church more that what I currently can be. The problem is that often we are committing to and pouring into church stuff that is really just 'stuff' with a God-label on it. Many of things I like to do (like Bible Studies and youth groups and church council meetings) are useful and good for building others up. On the other hand, going to every service, attending a number of homegroups, mid-week meetings at Maccas about a ministry group,  helping with post-church coffee and being part of some bogus committee all in the same week is going to lead to burn out. That's dangerous for your health and your faith.

5. worship events
We tell the world that we are different from them. Then we give musos flashy lights, pretty clothes and create a mosh pit. Then we tell youth that they should be doing this for God's glory, not just dancing for the sake of it. HELLO! This is only thing kids know. They often don't define it as worship - it is music. Worship comes from the heart and to do it we must have some kind of understanding behind it. A good Christian song is still a song until we apply some of our faith and knowledge to it.
I'm not dissing my musically talented friends - many of them have the right heart attitude about this stuff. We need to look at how worship is being presented  and then do something about it to help kids learn, grow and understand it.

6. repeating stuff the preacher dude (or dudette) tells us to
I cannot stand this crap! honestly! does it make you remember stuff? Maybe. It does make the preacher sound more like a motivational speaker or rock star than they would care to be. I know this is some kind of style people are used to. I've heard it done authentically. But i've mostly heard it done in some lame ways. "I can't hear you.." Oh, come on. People will take out of a sermon what they want to and what they're led to.

7. corny youth group games
This year I have played a lot of corny youth group games. I've been part of many bad ones. I've ran many bad ones. some good ones too. if you grew up in a youth group you'll know exactly what I'm on about. Now, personally I hate to be humilated and looked at. I don't really like touching people either. I don't do competition nicely. People like me hate corny youth group games. Let's abolish them, or at least, start looking at why we do these things.

8. a shared meal
Oh dear.
Shared meals scare the living daylights out of me. There's always a surprise (usually tuna), there's bad cooking (think Mrs Cropley) and there's always the Tim Tam packet that runs out. However, shared meals are accepted. I've been to shared meal post-services, pre-services, weddings, funerals and youth group events. I always leave not really knowing what I have eaten. This was especially bad at a Bible-times based progressive dinner after which I was hideously sick all the next day, and felt so poorly I left the house for a night at Simon's in a Winnie-the-Pooh jumper. This is why I don't like shared meals.

9. the handshake bit.
I used to love doing the handshake bit at the Bapos here in MG. I knew and loved so many people I never got time to give them all cuddles. However, since then I have grown to hate this part of the service. The Passing of the Peace - much nicer and less hugs. The greeting of others with a holy kiss - blurgh. I have been exposed to that rubbish many times. I really really hate that.

10. the Christian bubble
This is where I leave you tonight my friends - the final thought of the Christian bubble. I have lived in this Bubble for short lived periods of my life. It is a terrible place to be, and here's why - because you so rarely get the opportunity to share the love of Jesus Christ with others, and if the opportunity arises, too often we see the flaws (or sins) in a person's life (gay people. single mums. new christians. people who use drugs and alcohol. other religions. single dads. people who can't come to church. people who are scared of church. people who are severly hurt by the church). We see these flaws and address them first (law) before introducing them to a gospel message (grace). Now, despite what some preachers may believe (shall we say, a little group in Rundle Mall), the grace of God, brought proudly to us by Jesus Christ is the message we need to deliever first. It is all very well to say "look, here are your issues you need to get right before you meet Jesus," but that is a LIE. People know that deep down they are unhappy with aspects of their lives. They are looking for something more. Let's not condemn them before they even meet Jesus.

Let's be honest. If you have an issue in your life that is there before you become a Christian, it will often be there afterwards. Circumstances can change dramatically with God, and I have seen and heard amazing things God has done in people's lives - literally right away. However, if you're gay, or if you're living with your partner, or if you are addicted to a substance, those things are going to take time to work through. Let's get honest with ourselves and God. We can be like them, but not like them. Maybe instead of having all these nice Christian "things to do", we create at atmosphere for everyone most of the time - believers and non-believers alike. Am I being idealistic? Perhaps. I mean after suffering through the biggest Christian bubble ever, I can see how hard it is for outsiders to be included in anything, let alone everything. But it sure is possible. We're not an exclusive club. Jesus made sure of that.

My message is clear - the Christian life is whacky. What I find weird you probably won't. Maybe I've offended or upset people. Maybe you disagree with me. Maybe you don't. I just wanted to put it out there for those who have found it all a bit tough and don't know what to make of this crazy Christian lifestyle. I still don't and I've been in it hardcore for ten years. I've been more hurt by Christian people than the world. That's not right, but it isn't an excuse to give up on someone I wholy believe in.