Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Church People"

Many times in the military world I have found myself in an uncomfortable stuffy setting where women are pretending to be the most perfect form of a human being possibly made. They are talking about all of their perfect things, their perfect children, and their perfect lives while clutching their designer handbags and using their husband's rank to make them feel important.

I thought these were the women that would support me while my husband serves his country? What is going on here? It makes me want to scream! Better yet, it makes me want to make up a story about my child being in jail and my husband being a drunk! I am sure that would give them something to talk about.

Can you imagine how I, the imperfect, fun-loving, moody, butterfly-spirited, Wizard of Oz loving, speaks her mind, kind-of-girl must feel like in this environment? Suffocated and feeling horrible about who I am! And why? They are the ones being fake! *It's the pressure to be like them. I am delighted to have moved on to a place where these people no longer have the power to pressure me.

Unfortunately, over the past several years, I've also noticed that this facade also exists in the church. But in this environment it takes on a strange life of it's own. This is church after all, a place where a Christian community comes together in keeping Christ the center and focus of all things. How can this facade exist among Christians? We all come together for one cause and one cause only. Yet some people have adopted this IDEA of how they are SUPPOSED to be "church people" and that's how they pretend to be. No matter what "this way" is ... they pretend to be it. For lack of a better term, I have called these people "church people". These people are not all people that attend church, just the ones that have lost their focus on Christ.

I was once at a church member's house for family night (church related event) and during a discussion I was asked who my favorite music artist was. Several people had already answered with their own "Chris Tomlin" kind of artists. Then I said my favorite was Sheryl Crow. Big eyes ... strange looks ... disappointment ... quiet. Then a few people said, "well, if we're being honest mine is ..." and they proceeded to talk about the secular artists they enjoyed. The leader of discussion was not in the least bit amused by my honesty.

You see, I knew how I was *supposed* to answer, but I decided to tell the truth and these "church people" tried to make me feel bad about it. Can a person really be offended by Sheryl Crow? *Or does it offend their "idea" of how "church people" should be?*

New Christians are pressured by people in the church to act a certain way from day one. From the moment they step into a church they are judged, and not by God. They are to listen to a certain kind of music, dress a certain way, and speak a certain way. This is also all expected at once. The new Christian is to know the entire Bible and be able to recite scriptures immediately. The new Christian is to know the books of the bible, where to find them, and how to interpret them properly. Which makes me wonder ... didn't you just invite Johnny to church? How can he possibly know these things. He was just saved a month ago! Where is the teaching, guidance, and LOVE for your fellow brother or sister? Just like with the military spouses, no support or focus.

I think "church people" pride themselves in how long they have been a Christian. This is held up like a badge of honor. They come to church, pay their tithes, get their highly expected entertainment, and go back home. Not to mention the harsh glance at a knee length skirt served up with a gossipy best friend's "can you believe she would wear that" statement. It doesn't matter to them how they have served their community, loved their neighbor, led others to Christ, read their bibles, or given to the poor. They use this position in the church just like the military spouses used their husband's rank. I'd rather have Jesus anyday!

Maybe new Christians are undervalued. Maybe new Christians have a lot more to offer than the 25-year Christian. Many "mature Christians" have trouble adapting to new ideas, changing old habits, and getting rid of this idea of how the younger Christian is supposed to be. Why can't we read the bible on an iPhone app? Why can't we text our friends to say hi when we have a break from our kids? Why can't our music in church be a little louder and have an edge that captures the heart of a new generation? Why do we have to conform to YOUR ideas? What is Christ's idea for us? That's the focus, Jesus Christ!

I have done church both ways. I have pretended and tried to act the part, which I became very good at. And then I decided to get real and make sure that I was doing it the right way. I only get so much time on earth to make it happen and I'll do it honestly and with one person in mind! When someone finds it hard to believe that I have never heard a Christian song from the 90's, I don't mind telling them I was listening to Rap, Not Amy Grant! It's a part of who I am. It's a part of my personal life and walk with the Lord.

I challenge people's ideas, I ask the dumb questions, I read my bible from an iPhone, I listen to Sheryl Crow, I wear jeans to church, I prefer The Message over the King James, I text scriptures to my friends, I watch noneducational garbage on TV, and I love pop-culture. I also teach children about Jesus and how to pray, I serve my church with all of my heart, I tell strangers about Jesus Christ, I teach my family how to serve Christ, I encourage old and new Christians to be all that God wants them to be, I love my enemies, and my WHOLE life is given to Christ every single day.

I am a new Christian. EVERYDAY!

Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Matthew 6:33 (The Message)

1 comment:

Ashley Hlavaty said...

Your amazing Kelly! I understand exactly what you mean about being judged by how Christian you are. Unfortunately, sometimes it comes from within your tightest circles - military wives, church, or in our case our family. We are constantly judged by whether our relationship with Christ is how its "supposed" to be. I'm glad to hear that you'll accept us no matter what!