Last night, we went through the sixth session of Lynn Anderson’s They Smell Like Sheep series. This is such a powerful series and has opened up conversation about how we shepherd, equip, and mentor people. This class has about fifty people of various ages, backgrounds, etc. As we talk from week to week, I’ve been reminded that church really is messy. We are certainly not perfect.
Yet, we know that we have choices. After all, we are consumers. We live in a culture where there are numerous options for most everything. If you don’t like the restaurant where you had lunch yesterday, there are plenty of others to choose from (unless, of course, you live in a place where your options are very limited).
I think that we have made it difficult to really live as a people deeply committed and devoted to one another. After all, the expectations are high. We expect to be fulfilled in all areas of life. Yet, I do have concerns for a few of these areas:
- A view of Women– As the father of two daughters, I am very conscious of this one. Far too many women hear (and believe) the message that a person (especially a woman) must be perfect in order to be loved. Walk through the magazine section at Barnes and Noble. Picture after picture of perfect looking women–perfect skin, perfect figures, perfect tan. Meanwhile our college campuses report an overwhelming number of girls wresting with bulimia and anorexia. That’s not to mention the teenage girls getting plastic surgery to enhance their figures.
- Material Wealth– This is a concern I have for many people in churches. Typically, we don’t think of ourselves as "wealthy". Yet, the bar continues to be raised. We are spending an astronomical amount of money on proms, weddings, vacations, etc. Many Christians don’t seem any more content than anyone else. Instead of sending our money to mission efforts or giving more to help the local church, we keep "moving up". (Yes, I know that one can be a Christian and be wealthy. I know that some wealthy people do a great deal of good in the way they use their money. I understand that…) What concerns me is that many of seem to settle for a superficial life instead of something deep, rich, and Christ-centered.
- Church– Can you imagine being married to someone who threatens to walk out of your life if he decides that he is not happy anymore? There won’t be much real intimacy and vulnerability in that marriage. Why? That person might walk out on you at any minute. I’m concerned about an attitude that many of us communicate to one another in church that goes something like this: I will try this church for awhile, but if the church down the street seems to meet my needs better, I’m out of here! That is almost a guarantee that many people around that person will keep them at arms length. Afterall, they may walk out at any moment.
I am so thankful for the grace of God. God’s grace communicates to each one of us, "I know you are not perfect. I know that you don’t measure up. I know that you fail. And–I choose to love you, anyway."