Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is that all you could find?

The other day before our worship service began, I was having a conversation with an older member. By coincidence I was wearing blue jeans, as were a few other musicians on the worship team. This older member commented that it would never have been like that 20 years ago. His generation does, and always has, worn a white shirt, tie, and coat to church, every week. No exceptions.

So I said, what if I did not have any "nice" clothes (nice by his definition) Am I still welcome? Isn't it about presenting ourselves to God? And coming to the weekly communal worship?

"Oh, you would be welcome," he said, "but you would get more than a few looks."


Does this attitude surprise me? Not at all. What really surprises me is that this gentleman, and in general his entire generation at my church, feel that appropriate dress is a reasonable prerequisite to attending worship in our sanctuary.

In the end, all I could do is pity this man and all of those like him. They are in their own little world of Christianity. It's a very private place, but it is all they have. They have no idea what they are missing, and so it is virtually impossible to convince them that there is so much more. Do I think this is unusual? Nope. And more so, it is probably the norm in most of the mainstream churches in the US. It is my sincere hope that church could be all about Jesus, but alas this earthly vale of tears makes it almost impossible.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

May I Help You?

OK, this falls into the Soapbox category. I have lots of very helpful friends. Of course, this is a huge blessing to me, my church, and my community. What do I need a soapbox for? Well, it's like this, I have found that often, the most helpful people are also those least likely to ask for help themselves. By now they have all heard my speech. It goes like this:

Me: "Do you enjoy helping your friends?"
My friend: "Of course."
Me: "Does it make you feel good when you help someone out?"
My friend: "Yes, very much so."
Me: "Then why to you refuse to allow your friends to share that feeling?"
My friend: ...silence...

So many people are too proud to ask for help. I understand this feeling, and I have certainly felt and acted this way in the past. But if you truly care about your friends, let them bear some of your burdens, as you have borne for them. Give them the opportunity to share the wonderful feeling you love so much. Our Christian teaching to love others means that sometimes, we can let others help us, even those we may not know. This might be very hard for some. After all, it means letting your guard down. Ouch.

I might be accused of being selfish for this. Of course, sharing the burden means that sometimes we bear it, and sometimes others bear it for us. You can not expect to hide behind this philosophy and never lift a finger. As I said above, this is speech is almost always given to people who are already the most helpful.

If you need any more convincing, how about this: letting your guard down, giving in just a little, admitting you need a little help, these are all just good practice at being Christian. If you can't give in just a little to an earthly friend, how are you going to give it all to your ultimate friend, Jesus, the King of Kings?