By: Jana Greene
This letter is difficult for me to write…not because You will know what it says before I get the words onto the page, but because some of your followers will read it.
You’ve placed upon me the burden of a writer’s mind, and I feel compelled to share this prayer instead of hiding it. I’ve hidden them under a bushel before, and when the storms kick up, the winds lay all the broken pieces bare.
“God, save us from your followers!” Have you ever heard that expression? Of course, it is prayed to you – if only tounge-in-cheek.
We humans have made Your Church about us. I am reminded today that the enemy hasn’t hijacked your church entirely. That the church as You intended was your broken disciples gathered around at your feet, wanting to learn how to love.
What made them the Apple of your Eye, even with all their foibles, denials and betrayals, was that they were gathered at your feet looking to you, not around at each other.
Oh how we like to look around at each other!
Today, I called a member of Your Church, in the gathering of Your followers that I call home. I seem to be going through a challenging season in my life, and was ashamed at first that I’m caught so overwhelmed by it. Afraid to share it, even to fellow believers!
Even though it should be the first place broken people run for support in You….the church.
For the hundredth time in this very challenging season, I’m overwhelmed with angst and gratitude, both. My church family didn’t scatter and run from me, because I’m in a struggle. They are running toward me, in love!
I wish this running-to was what the world associated with “churchiness,” but how could it be?
The world has not always seen your church as a running-to. They have a lot of bad history with which to define “church, and so the run from it. Sometimes, in churches:
We’ve pointed fingers at each other in smug satisfaction that our micro-management is an efficient way to follow You … in rules, divisions, regulations. (We’ve perfected, it, God – your church – You’re welcome!) What we’ve really perfected is a way to distract us from You.
We’ve built stunning cathedrals in which to bring Your worship, but we’ve left our praises to echo in stone after Sunday service.
We’ve marketed Your “brand” with slick campaigns, and watered down your message in the effort to offend no-one.
We’ve called attention to the “specks” in the eyes of others, while blinded by the “planks” in our own eyes.
We’ve called You “Pal,” and lost our reverence of Your Diety.
We’ve revered Your Diety, and lost sight of Your intimate friendship.
We’ve decided that “those” people (addicts, adulterers, swindlers, cheats, fill-in-the-blank however You wish) are only a product of their own poor choices, deserving to suffer… while every last one of us is guilty of some similar infraction far worse.
God, You know that I am guilty of most of these things myself. I constantly need your help not to be.
For the hundredth time, I’ve been ashamed of my struggles because I’m afraid people will judge my “churchiness.” I make no bones about being a part of your church, and many people make no bones about judging churchy people.
Perhaps because so many churchy people have judged them harshly.
What would happen if we – the modern church – made “churchiness” synonymous with running to others? What if we just gathered around your feet to hear what you had to say, so that we could learn how to love? I so long to do this; to be this church.
Forgive us, Father, that we don’t know how. God, save us – Your followers -from ourselves! Let us look to you. By YOUR grace we are saved. By YOUR grace, we are Your Church.
I thank you for a church family that gathers their own, even when their own are bona-fide humans. We are Yours, worth redeeming.
You have no need for the empty, gem-encrusted artifacts that the world has come to brand as “churchiness.” You just want all the broken pieces, gathered at your feet.
I am signed,
A broken disciple. Yours.