For many of us who grew up in the church, there were times where it felt like we were there more than anywhere else...Sunday Mornings, Sunday Nights, Youth Group, Wednesday Nights, (then changed to the not-so-different, but trying-to-be-cooler) Tuesday nights,..for a kid whose greatest relationships, friendships (and a few boyfriends) were found at church, I never really had an issue with it. The hardest part though was putting on "the face..."
You know what "face" Im talking about...Someone would be ticked at someone else over something, either serious concerns or ridiculous drama (with 2 girls in the house, ours was often the second) You would fight and argue and tear down all the way to church in the car, but the minute those minivan doors slid open, you had your Church Face on...the face that said, "Nothing could possibly be wrong with me or in my life because I am a Christian...and we are a Christian family...". And on those occasions where the secrets slipped and the face fell off, you were mortified to think what they were all *gasp!* thinking of you...and I had to think...is this Real Church? Real Community? Or are we just putting on faces? And when we come to our church is it to make others lives fuller or is it sometimes, just adding checkmarks to our attendance books?
A funny thought hit me recently...There isnt a day that goes by that Im not experiencing real life...real community with someone from my church family. Whether it's a facebook comment, phone call, text message, or small group conversation, the interesting thing is, we're doing life together. There have been times when my "face" has fallen off and they didnt care. They talked with me, prayed with me, cried with me....Even in moments of personal frustration, when I may have contemplated going somewhere else for church, I knew that I couldnt because my family...my community...would come for me. They would pursue me, and want to know if I was ok. They would ask me the tough questions, have the deep conversations, tear back the patchwork bandage I had on my spiritual wounds and pour the healing salve of love onto my self-inflicted spiritual gashes, caused by keeping my struggles and secrets locked inside. Its this thought that has reminded me time and time again this week, how much I love how our church loves on people. We pursue deeper relationships, just as God pursues our hearts.
Picture for a moment a mountain...a large, snowcapped monstrosity waiting to be overcome. I've never been much of a climber myself, but I do know that they have strict regulations about anyone going it alone. Climbers go in pairs or groups to help one another along the way. When the one leading gets tired, another will carribeen up to relieve them and offer support. They are all usually tethered to one another, sharing in each victory and each difficulty. They are experiencing this life, this moment together...
Sure, it's totally possible to fade in and out of church, just like anyone else...but if your heart is there for the right reasons, its impossible to ignore the challenge and call to community. It's how Jesus did it...it's how we should do it...let your "Church Face" fall off and be real with those in your community...because the mountain Life was not meant to be overcome alone.