Living in the information age that we do, I have strong doubts anyone living with connection to the general public has not yet heard about God, Jesus or the church. You can find steeples on every other corner block and a quick look at any news agency website, let alone Facebook/Twitter feed, will make an almighty reference of some sort. People know about Christianity as a theological option.
The question isn’t Why or Who. It’s So What?
So What if God? So What if Jesus?
We (mostly the Professional Christians like myself) have become so much about a theological position on a topic that we’ve forgotten that what people really hunger for: something that matters. I can believe the sky is blue (or purple) and meditate on it all the live-long-day. I can tell my friends to look and observe and Believe! but why does it matter that the sky is blue? If there’s nothing that changes my immediate reality (which doesn’t stop in my mind or home, but also in my community and in my world), then so what?
A friend recently emailed me a blog post without commentary, in which I safely presumed meant, “This. right here. This is what I mean.” Because I couldn’t reply to her with an empty email with a similar presumption, I wrote, “This. Yes.” Because I wholeheartedly agree.
I’ve put in a considerable amount of time and effort to think about life from the perspective of people I know and love, who don’t happen to do the church/God/faith-as-everything-thing, but who I believe do “believe in Jesus and God” and who want to be good people. I believe God’s spirit lives inside of them, but on Sunday mornings they opt to stay in bed or drink good coffee, not because a case hasn’t been proven for God’s existence, but because I haven’t lived as if it even matters.
We spend Sunday after Sunday in churches everywhere, confused about the lack of engagement. I have to wonder if it’s because we’re not really answering the right questions. We write it off to intellectual stumbling blocks about creation and evolution or politics, topics we’re clearly right about*, and pray for the poor souls.
We have become so busy trying to persuade a group of people to believe our answer to a question they’re not asking that we’re totally amiss of the hundreds of people we encounter every day who have been churched and rechurched. They “accepted Jesus” and love God but don’t see what a group of people who gather on a Sunday morning (or a Wednesday or Saturday night) would do to help them in understanding what this means. They don’t see it because we don’t do it.
It’s like they’ve been at a Pep Rally for Jesus for the past 33 years and they just keep wondering how long until kickoff. So they decide to go home and watch the game from the comfort of their couch where they don’t have to wear pants with a zipper or chat with the Annoying Person We’re Supposed to Love Anyways. Tune in the podcast, listen to some praise music on the way to get groceries and bam! Church. My cousin calls it Homechurching.
And I don’t blame anyone living this lifestyle. Not one iota. I don’t think poorly of those who homeschool because I’m honestly aware of the shortcomings of our public school systems. In the same way, I’m painfully attuned of the places in the church where we completely dropped the ball.
We do fine telling people about Jesus. We don’t explain, show and live why Jesus matters. He has become a blue sky belief, very pretty and sometimes visible, but difficult to put into the context of the course of a day or a relationship with someone.
Now, go ahead. Throw back at me the question I’m always asking: What does that look like?
I don’t know. I’m not sure.
(In one of my journalism classes we discussed what qualifies as “porn” on the airwaves and how a supreme court justice said that he could not define it but when he saw it, he knew it. I feel the same way about authentic spiritual living.) I can’t give you a detailed outline or a how-to guide. I only know it’s not walking out of most churches. So when we can’t fully describe what we’re aiming to be, it’s hard to start putting it into action.
Perhaps you can tell me: how do you see an authentic spiritual life lived out in front of you? What is it about someone that you “know it when you see it”?
*This is the best I can do for a sarcasm font.