Go Easy On Her {Er… You… Er… Us}

Okay. So you are a church-going-veteran. You did all the corny musicals on Easter and Christmas, you went through a few of those canned “soulwinning” classes so you could deliver the gospel in 5 minutes or less, you can name all the Apostles and you can spell “Christian/Christ/Heart/LiveEternally” in rapid succession. And at some point you realized that a lot of what you’ve been doing all your life is kind of… dumb. Or contrived. Or indeed detrimental to the actual message of the bible.
So you have turned from your former religion and found yourself in a robust relationship with the Creator who made Himself your Savior. And it. is. awesome. You get to relate to God in a way you never knew possible. YAY JESUS!!
I am the first to say that the western Church is being courted by a lot of crappy suitors. She has been easily distracted and impressed with cheap tricks so she has all but missed her Groom in the chaos. We are really good at the party side of being a Bride, but we are not so great at the marriage part. In general.
And when you first have this revelation it can be reeeaal easy to look smugly back and scoff at her. At this immature, missing the point bride. We don’t even fain humility and grace with her because we were her and somehow that gives us the right to hate her. Or laugh at her. Or tell her she’s worthless.
But our Jesus is calling. His blessed tears fell over Jerusalem as He spoke of their coming end with deferred hope. “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace!” Do we think His heart is not still for His people? Even those who are being led astray by the shiny things our western “christian” culture has to offer?
Let me be clear: I am vehemently opposed to the guilt trips, the manipulation, the easy-grace that is handed out on 3×5 cards, the latent encouragement – even suggestion – to remain fully enslaved while claiming freedom from this world, the cowardice and the idol worship. These are dangerous and completely damaging demons that are plaguing the western Church. They should be called out and harshly rebuked because they are pulling people from the Lord.
But intermingled is 15 year old me who is all wound up in legalism and guilt and coercion, but loves her Jesus. Among the garbage there are lots of earnest and sincere longings for this one true God. There are buds of life growing despite the poor soil. And if someone – particularly a Christian I respected – were to tell me at the time that everything I was doing in an attempt to get close to God was stupid or disingenuous I would have felt hurt and afraid, I would have considered what they said and it may have actually led me away from everything altogether because I would have rather done none of it than do it wrongly (I know it’s a flaw and I know I’m not the only one).
So that girl needed gentle, loving guidance. I needed – the western Church needs – a patience that puts up with some of the sillier rules she’s imposed upon herself. She needs a tolerance for the things she doesn’t have to be doing, but is doing with great sincerity because at the end of the day, the Bride wants to walk down the aisle with the One who stole her heart. There is a remnant – there is always a remnant – and it would be a serious, sinful tragedy to undermine the true believers while trying to filter out the chaff.
We can laugh at ourselves – I think it’s good; if you saw the outfits I wore to be “modest” you’d laugh, too – but let’s be thoughtful and loving in how we speak about these things. Let’s be careful not to trash the Bride while we’re making light of our personal history or denouncing her {very real} predators. I have made that mistake plenty – especially when I first saw the inconsistencies – and the end is only frustration, hurt and anger when we are called to make peace around us and keep our hearts set on the good.
Just as my husband took years to move me from a religion that was strangling me into one that brings me closer and closer to the God I so desperately love, we must be willing to see the Bride in the western Church. We must fight for her because she is us. This is our people. This is our legacy. This is the heritage that is inheriting the Kingdom. Let’s separate ourselves loud and clear from the things that have been a cancer to our nation (that is, our spiritual nation), but let’s also be clear that we are not separate from the hearts that yearn for His like ours do even when they are running a *corny VBS.

*I will probably send RJ and EJ to corny VBSes so no hate. 😉

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