I read an interesting blog post this morning that hit on something that’s been on my mind for the past 24 hours. You can find this particular blog post at: Stop Apologizing for Your Art | Goins, Writer.
I have a tendency to apologize a lot, even when I have nothing to apologize for, and that bothers me. And I want to stop doing it. So today I officially stop doing it.
As I mulled over what Jeff Goins wrote in his blog post, I realized that there was a part of me that wanted to apologize to Christians in my reading audience who might be offended because I post comments, statements, and YouTube videos from secular sources. One thing that has always bothered me in our “Americanized” version of Christianity is how easily offended many Christians in America become at the drop of a hat. At one point not long ago I was pretty much admonished to “stick with the Bible” when writing my blog posts as the person stating this was obviously offended that I quoted sources other then the Bible. There was no point in discussing this with him so I just smiled and walked away. I’m glad I didn’t know what church he attended in the area because I’m afraid it smacks of legalism.
Listen up, folks. God does not live in the box we put him in all the time. If you don’t believe me, read Isaiah 55:8-9. He is not confined by the small mindedness of Christians who demand their own rights about how He operates. God is sovereign over the entire universe and everything that happens on this earth, whether a person believes in Him or not. My blog posts include quotes or music videos from “non-Christian” sources as well as Christian sources that tie in with what the Bible has said all along to show that God is sovereign and in complete control and we are not!
I refuse to “play church.” Many, many people are really, really good at “playing church.” I’m tired of church folks who are so easily offended that you can’t even have a decent conversation with them without them disagreeing about something. This world is full of hurting people who need to hear about the gospel of Jesus Christ but they don’t need to hear it from a bunch of folks who are mean spirited and demanding and who “play church.” Outward appearances mean nothing, and hurting folks know that. “God talk” is cheap . . . living it out isn’t. And most folks don’t “live it out” but think they can tell others how to do it. WRONG!!!
I’m old enough to know that many Christian books written back in the 80’s had a lot more substance to them than much of what is published today. There’s a chapter in one book published in 1983, “Dropping Your Guard,” by Dr. Charles Swindoll, titled “Needed: Shelter for Storm Victims” that screams out to be heard by today’s church folks. Here’s a quote from the opening paragraphs of this chapter:
“Churches need to be less like national shrines and more like local bars . . . less like untouchable cathedrals and more like well-used hospitals, places to bleed in rather than monuments to look at . . . places where you can take your mask off and let your hair down . . . places where you can have your wounds dressed.
“It’s like my Marine-buddy, recently turned Christian, said, as he lamented the absence of a place of refuge:
“. . . the only thing I miss is that old fellowship all the guys in our outfit used to have down at the slop shoot . . . we’d sit around, laugh, tell stories, drink a few beers, and really let our hair down. It was great!
“But now I ain’t got nobody to tell my troubles to, to admit my faults to. I can’t find anybody in church who will put their arms around me and tell me I’m still okay. Man, it’s kinda lonely in there!”
“He was looking for people who demonstrated authentic love . . . I found myself churning, wishing it were not so. I was hoping the new Christian was nit-picking, but he wasn’t. Stop and think. Where does a guy go when the bottom falls out? To whom do we Christians turn when stuff that’s embarrassing or a little scandalous happens? Who cares enough to listen when we cry? Who affirms us when we feel rotten? Who will close their mouths and open their hearts? And, even though we deserve a swift kick in the pants, who will embrace us with understanding and give us time to heal without quoting verses? Without giving us a tape of some sermon to listen to? Without telling a bunch of other Christians so they can “pray more intelligently” (this folks, is just a disguise to gossip most of the time). Yeah, we need more shelters for storm victims. It’s okay if they look like churches on the outside, just so folks don’t act churchy on the inside. Most hurting people I know are fed up with churchy Christians. What we really need is that special something many people find in a local bar. Put on your shock boots and see if you agree with the following comparison between the bar and the church.
“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality, but it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable. It is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others or even want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the prices of a few beers.
“With all my heart I believe that Christ wants His church to be . . . a fellowship where people can come in and say, ‘I’m sunk!’ ‘I’m beat!’ ‘I’ve had it!'”
“What if your wife is an alcoholic? Or your son recently told you he’s a practicing homosexual? Let’s say your husband just walked out . . . or what if he is sexually abusing your two daughters? Or you?
“Who can you turn to if you just got fired? . . . Or you just got out of jail? . . . Or your 15-year-old daughter told you last night that she was pregnant? . . . Or you beat your kids and you’re scared–and ashamed? . . . Or you can’t cope with your drug habit any longer? . . . Or you need professional help because you’re near a breakdown?
“Do you know what you need? You need a shelter. A place of refuge. A few folks who can help you, listen to you, introduce you, once again, to ‘. . . the Father of mercies, the God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction’ (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Christianity may be ‘like a might army,’ but we often handle our troops in a weird way. We’re the only outfit I’ve ever heard of who shoots their wounded. That’s what my Marine buddy was afraid of. He had had enough of getting shot. Frankly, so have I.”
And, so have I. Nothing has changed much in the church since that book was published back in 1983, and, indeed, I believe it has gotten much worse. At the moment I have no desire to darken another church door yet I know that we are admonished to “not forsake our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:25). Unfortunately, I’m very, very tired of Christian folks who smile to my face but talk behind my back. That is far from encouraging . . . and nobody seems to be aware that “the day is drawing near.”
I’d rather stumble along and continue to try to “live it out” then to ever “play church.” A “religious spirit” is ugly and never draws people to Jesus Christ. I’d rather show my flaws and how Jesus is changing me in the midst of them to a watching world so that a hurting world can see that Jesus doesn’t require perfection or a “religious spirit” to come to Him.
Perfect people don’t need Jesus–hurting people do.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly” (–Jesus in Matt. 11:28-30 MSG).
**Dr. Charles Swindoll wrote three books in the early 80’s, “Improving Your Serve” (1981); “Strengthening Your Grip” (1982); and “Dropping Your Guard” (1983) which are now available in one hardcover volume titled “The Treasured Writings of Charles Swindoll” (Inspirational Press, 2004).
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