It's Sunday morning. You walk through those double doors with your bible in one hand and your iPhone in the other, practicing your smile and trying to "leave this week at the doors so you can worship freely." But as the first song begins to play, you can't hear what the worship leader is saying because the guilt and shame and baggage of your week is loudly clashing and clanging around your mind.
But you keep smiling, because maybe if you smile long enough, no one will guess what's really going on inside your head.
The band is transitioning to song three by now, you know, the one that you're supposed to "make your prayer"? But praying is the last thing you want to do. You can't talk to God like this! Maybe next week. You'll do better next week.
That's not what Church is about.
That's now how Church was intended to make you think and feel. The act of "going to church" comes from the 1st Century gathering of Jesus' disciples and those who had heard about His resurrection from the dead. They met together out of both desire and necessity. Desire, so they build community, accountability and stability in their lives as Christians. Necessity, because they recognized this life of a Christian was impossible to live out alone. They needed each other.
Nothing about that has changed from then to now. The human condition is still the same.
There was sin then and there is sin now. There was shame and fear then and there is shame and fear now. Just because the first gatherings of people who dubbed the name "Church" were closer to the life of Jesus, didn't mean they were less human or more holy.
The word of God has not changed. The truth and open door of the Gospel has not wavered. It is as true and simple and real now as it was then:
If you confess with your words that Jesus is Lord, the Son of God, and believe with your heart (kardia: the heart, mind, character, will, inner self, intention, center) that God raised Him from the dead, after dying to pay the debt of mankind, you are saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in a right standing with God, and with their mouth they confess their inability to ever be good enough for God's approval on their own, resulting in their salvation (Paraphrased from Romans 10:9-10)
No more masks, because we all have reason to wear one.
No more fake smiles, because life is more miserable as a fake, and we've all got something to fake. Let's let the Church be what it's supposed to be: a place of love and refuge. It's scary to be real, but someone's got to make the first move. Let's (and by let's I mean you and me!) be bold this weekend. Don't fake it. Talk to someone. Pray with someone. Tell your story and see how the flood gates open up.
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