Our new neighbors invited my kids to their VBS this week. I had never heard of their church. So I must admit that I drove there with slight hesitation on Tuesday evening.
Not hesitation because our new neighbors aren’t nice. They’re great! But I had never stepped foot into a Native American church. And sadly, stereotypes kept coming to mind until I imagined people in headdress chanting over baskets of snakes. Ugh. How horrible!
When I got there my neighbor invited me to stay, insisting that it wasn’t just for kids. So I followed them inside their little church inwardly rehearsing my snake holding skills just in case…having no idea how amazing the next couple of hours would be.
It wasn’t the technology. They really didn’t have any. It wasn’t the band. We sang to music from a CD. It was the people and Jesus. It felt fresh. And real.
Aside from the sweet time of Bible study in a tiny room with fourteen other adults and Hawaiian Punch, one statement blessed me more than anything else.
During our adult worship time — which consisted of us creating a dance to our class VBS song (don’t laugh) — a lady said, “I tried to make up some moves to that song this week but since I’m a smoker, I could barely breathe!” She didn’t try to hide her smoking or act like something she wasn’t. She’s a smoker. It was honest. And it really blessed me.
For the record, I don’t think smoking is evil. I just think it does unkind things to our body — spoken from killing my own lungs while I was in college. And I think it’s one thing some Christians try to hide.
It’s so tempting to hide behind these masks of who we think we should be or who we want to be or who we think others want us to be. But let me tell you from experience, that mindset will drain the life out of us.
Imagine the intimacy that could develop in the Body of Christ if we just laid our struggles out there. If we stopped hiding and simply said, “You know what, I’m a smoker.” “I can’t stop drinking.” “I’m addicted to pornography.” “I’m nasty to my kids.” “I’m drowning in debt because I love stuff.” “I lie, cheat, steal, or gossip.”
What would happen if we were just honest. Because sin is just evidence that we’re human. Addictions just reveal what everyone else already knows about us: We ain’t God.
Maybe some would point fingers and talk behind our backs. That’s what the flesh does. But maybe some would just say, “Alright sister, you want freedom from that thing? I’ll pray for you and walk with you through this. Nothing is impossible to overcome with God.”
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
When the church acts like the church instead of simply playing church, unbelievable revival fires set ablaze. When we’re real before our neighbors, when our sin is exposed to God’s healing love and radical forgiveness, we transform. And when we transform, homes transform, churches transform, and nations transform.
It’s why Jesus died.
Fill me, Lord…
I would love to hear of a time when you experienced the church being the church.
I won’t blog next week because I have a writing deadline that’s pressing down. (My first big girl book is getting closer and closer to completion. Woo to the hoo!)
Between raising three kids, trying to be a good wife to my man, keeping the major messes contained, feeding all these people in love, and doing the final edits on the manuscript, I have to set something down. The blog it is.
So I’ll see you on August 13th! Lord willing.