. . . posts on faith and life
Many of my closest friends can’t stand church. Because of this they simply do not go to church. I recognize that there are some issues that each of them could address in each of their lives that would potentially help them overcome their various distastes for the ol’ Sunday Morning Worship Service. And from time to time I have challenged some of my friends to consider such things. However, I think that their disdain for church has as much or more potential in revealing problems with our concept of church than revealing their individual issues.
Paul bemoaned the fact that he could only give the believers at Corinth spiritual milk and not spiritual meat, being ‘infants in Christ’ as they were (and that they could not even handle the milk!–see 1 Cor 3:1-3). However, what I am encountering among my friends is something that seems a little different. There is a common, underlying spiritual hunger that I encounter in each of them. This hunger is for meat, not milk. In fact, they typically seem to have an aversion to spiritual milk. It seems that they are lactose intolerant.
I see the same recurring cycle in their lives. They are isolated from anything that allows them to pursue the filling of the spiritual void in their ‘belly.’ Every so often, when the pangs in their gut get impossibly wrenching, when they recognize that the malnourishment of their soul might ‘take their life,’ they decide to go give church a try again. They suspect that maybe something has changed at church, or perhaps something has changed in them, and that maybe ‘things will be different now.’ However, it’s not very long into the church service that their hopes are dispelled. Nothing has changed at church and nothing has changed in them. They cannot relate to all the church-speak that comes out of people’s mouths, they cannot relate to the music, they cannot relate to the pagentry (we have a lot of big churches here!), they cannot relate to the cliches (“Can we just give the Lord a handclap of praise?!”), and they cannot relate to the ‘agenda’ that is assumed by those that are ‘putting on’ the service. In the end, they leave frustrated that they ever thought things might be different and vow that they will not make the same mistake again. Unfortunately, the lack of spiritual food to feed on in the world will mean that they will be back in a few months. And most unfortunately, they will probably find little to eat.
I know that not all churches are this way. But I suspect that many are. I know that some of these dynamics are created in this queer town with all of its churches and all of its church leaders. But I suspect that it can be found in other towns too. I know that some of what I pick up on is more prevalent within the large congregations here that I am most in touch with. But I suspect that there are some little churches that do the same thing. At times I have suspected that as much as 80-90% of the junk we do and talk about in church is not only without spiritual sustenance, but is in fact offensive in the sight of God. Obviously I cannot back that up. But I wonder how we can look the ‘crucified God’ in the eyes and explain why we are so out of touch with our own sin; so out of touch with other people’s pain; and so out of touch with His blood which can heal them both?