This post is probably going to upset religious people and I feel like I’m going to say what a lot of christians are afraid to say.
Just trying to start 2018 off right, ya know?
Here we go: the church has absolutely worn me out. I’m getting to the point where I’m angry almost every time I walk into one. The church is tiring. Ministry is exhausting.
Do I hate the church? Absolutely not. Am I questioning that the Lord has called me to ministry? No.
Do I hate excessive meetings, poor judgement calls, training for no reason, conditional love, lack of discipline and little to no biblical truth? You bet.
The modern church is leaving me enraged, exhausted and heartbroken all at the same time.
Now that that’s out there. Let’s talk about something else.
A few months ago, I was sitting on the shower floor of my parents house having a total meltdown. I was calling out to the Lord (yes in the shower) asking Him what He wanted me to do. All He said to me was “Go back to where it all started”, so I did.
If you’ve ever seen me in a short sleeve shirt or just on Instagram, then you’ve seen the tattoo on my bicep. It’s an outline of Nepali Coast where I first saw Gods power with the world “wild” underneath it. It’s my favorite tattoo by far. That coastline is where my life started and throughout the last three years, the Lord has been calling me back to that place to show me things I had not caught on to the first time.
When I was hiking that mountain, I was barely 19, hated who I was and knew little to nothing about God, His design for the church or how any of it was supposed to work. The only thing I picked up on that day was that He was in fact, wild. He was nothing like what I had been taught. I knew that God was offensive- and I liked it.
Let’s break down the what the world “wild” means to me. Its my favorite word. It’s my favorite word to describe things in life. If you ever talk to me, you’ll hear me use some variation of it at least five times. When I first came to Christ, I was solely drawn to scriptures about the wilderness. The first book I read as a Christian was Table in the Wilderness by Preston Yancey. I love being outside. I love breaking tradition and rules. I love reading scripture about the church that was being described in the Bible. I love going on runs with my dogs in the morning through gorgeous fields-feeling totally free.
I dream about doing life the way Jesus did. No worries. No pointless meetings. No judging people. No rules. No legalism. No caring about what people think. Just real, raw, honest humanity.
I’m not great at it yet, but I like it.
I was in New York City a little over a week ago and that trip did something to me. I’m not much of a city person, but seeing countless homeless people, people on drugs, poor people and whatever else you can think of set something off in me that I think I’d been trying to hide from.
I walked past these people and obviously felt like a bad Christian for just walking by, but I also felt this sense of discomfort that I couldn’t bury. It finally hit me so hard that I couldn’t ignore it: I was tired of being safe. I was tired of not reaching out to people in fear of being judged. I was tired of trying to be cool. I was tired of trying to be liked. I was tired of doing what I was told without ever questioning it. I was tired of going to churches that were playing it safe. I was tired of being legalistic. I was tired of the modern church.
As long as we are human beings, we are going to mess stuff up. We’re going to make mistakes. I know that because I do it all the time and am in desperate need of grace. I’m not trying to be holier than though and claim that I know what I’m doing all the time.
But we’ve got to stop what we’re doing because it’s not working.
We need to stop making rules because we’re afraid of everything. We need to stop ignoring kids because they are a little harder to deal with. We need to stop making the church look like a rock concert compared to what it actually is- a place for sinners to drown in the grace of God. We’ve got to stop teaching superficial sermons in fear of hurting someone’s feelings. We’ve got to stop avoiding the sins we don’t understand. We’ve got to stop oppressing women and ignoring the audacious call that God has placed on men.
What we need to do is start getting real with people. We need get bold about calling out sin and quit with all this “only God can judge me” stuff. We’ve got to stop being offended when someone (lovingly) calls out our sin ( fun fact it’s what we are called to do with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ). We need to start admitting that we aren’t perfect. We need to stop trying to do everything ‘right’. We need to be a church that isn’t confined to walls and in house coffee stations. We need to humbly fall to our knees. We need men to sing out in the Spirit. We need to be willing to confront the injustices of this world. We need to stop messing up one of the most simple things in the world.
We need to embrace the wild call the Lord has uniquely placed on all of us as His children in order to have Him glorified.
If we want to be more like Christ, we’re going to have to be a little offensive. We’re going to have to be bold. We can’t be afraid to break rules.
Because that’s who God is. Just look at scripture. That dude doesn’t care about the rules. He went from CEO to janitor during his time on earth. He doesn’t care about what anyone thinks. He’s not concerned with hurting our feelings ( specifically mine), because He knows it’s going to make us better. God isn’t afraid of being judged and because we are made in His image, we don’t have to be either.
God was and still is committed to reckless love. He’s committed to forgiving people no matter what they’ve done. He’s committed to taking on the most troubled soul and making sure they know that they are loved. He’s committed to justice and social equality. In his human form as Jesus, he was committed to healing and would give anything he had away just to make sure someone else had something- and the Pharisees got him for that, so he just flipped a bunch of tables and peaced out.
I wouldn’t recommend that, but you get where I’m going.
But that is the type of boldness each one us should strive to have.
I’m not asking you to up and leave your church and give everything away. I’m not trying to say that we can’t be friends if you’re a part of a modern church or sing in a band. That’s dumb and hypocritical. What I’m doing is asking you to question what you’re doing. Question what you believe. Question what you’ve been told. Check your heart in the same ways I had to. Evaluate what’s going on in the hidden parts of your soul and ask the Lord to reveal His wildness to you so you can begin to fully embrace it in all its glory.
This isn’t about knowing every song on the Hillsong album. It’s not about doing church things. It’s not about memorizing the entire bible. It’s not about Jesus being a republican and the devil being a democrat.
This is about befriending gay people regardless of what you believe. This is about raising your hands in worship even if no one else is. This is about not going out on Friday night and helping someone in need instead. This is about forgiving your enemies. It’s about maybe voting in a way that your traditional family doesn’t agree with. This is about not caring what anyone thinks about living a pure life. It’s about living in true intimacy with God and others. This is about living so boldly in love and in Christ that it would be hard for someone to deny His presence in our lives.
Let’s go back to where it all started. Let’s go back to that garden and embrace the way it was supposed to be. Fun, freeing, loving and untamed in the most beautiful way. We’ve all been invited.
The modern church can get things done, but not like the wild can.
All my love,
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
Songs that set me on fire:
Explosion- Isla Vista Worship
Let it happen- United Pursuit
There is a cloud- Elevation Worship
Psalm 34- Shane and Shane
Peace Be Still-Lauren Daigle
Hidden- United Pursuit ft Will Reagan
(Seriously there are so many).
Sermons/podcasts/links to help in case this didn’t.
Love that lasts- Jeff and Alyssa Bethke
Anything Bob Goff has ever done
Video of the Nepali Coast