Walking Out Worship February 3, 2019
Every social group has a trigger word, or words, don’t they? Each of these words – when used in specific contexts – incite some sort of powerful and extreme emotion, whether it is indignation, offense, fear, disgust, or anger.
Think about it. I’ll say a word, and you can probably think of a social group who, when these words are uttered, become instantly up in arms: “stolen valor” “white privilege” “Colin Kaepernick”
“gun control” “confederate flag” “immigration”
The church has a couple trigger words, too, doesn’t it? Depending on the branch of the church we’re talking about, some the words above may trigger some heated responses. And here’s a recently trendy one: “Abortion.”
Get anyone in the church talking about abortion, or have some state pass legislation regarding abortion, and all of a sudden, the religious response is everywhere. The morality police come out of the woodwork – and I’m specifically talking about people who never come to the table to discuss the issue otherwise. And that’s exactly what I want to talk about – not whether the issue itself is right or wrong, but rather, our responses.
I’ve seen the full gamut of responses from in and around the church this week all across the socials. But the words of the responses from those within the church have all reeked of two things: #1, Judgement and #2, self-righteousness.
So right off the bat, when the news broke that the state of NY had legalized full term abortion, the initial responses coming from those within the church have first proclaimed our disgust.
Comments that speak of human depravity, that we are be able to conscionably make such a decision, using such terms as murder, and infanticide, and whatever other condescending and highly charged words that could be used to convey the outrage. Then using that same depravity to further shock their viewers or readers or listeners or followers by sharing the details of the actual abortion procedure; as if that warning label on the side of the pack of cigarettes ever stopped me before. Y’all. I am that person that sees a smoking cessation commercial, and I get up to go smoke.
Then there’s the comments comparing human legislation of the unborn to that of endangered animal species. Ah, yes. Using guilt and grossly inaccurate comparison tactics to further show me just how horrible we are.
The problem I see here is that when the church responds in this manner, she still sounds like the street-corner preacher with the bull horn telling me I’m going to hell: Loud, not even remotely inviting, and slandering the name of a god who, if he is correct, I’d rather not have anything to do with.
By allowing ourselves to be triggered, we, the offended, then become the offender in our efforts to prove to others – and ourselves – that the morality we’re preaching is righteous.
For those who may find themselves on the other side of the aisle, the stance put forth so loudly by the religious yet again, tells me that I’m not good enough, and the decisions I make are wrong. If this is the message that the church is putting forth, how does this differ from the message that we get from everywhere else in the world – that I’m not good enough, God does not love me, and I’m worthless?
But there is also another response coming from those within the church, which honestly surprised me. I was initially pleased by seeing this response – but don’t worry, that didn’t last long.
Using mercy to make the situation personal, people would offer their own names or services as potential parents. Pictures of signs littered the internet, along with heartfelt pleas with “don’t abort, we’ll adopt your baby.”
Knock-knock. Excuse me, ma’am, sir? I saw your sign on the Twitter, and I was wondering if you wanted to adopt my baby.
How often does that freaking happen? IT DOESN’T. Because the people we direct our messages to stopped listening a long time ago, and therefore, are not even in our sphere of influence now.
By feigning mercy and compassion, we completely miss the fact that the intended audience will never receive our message, and the only person this message points to is ourselves. (Who’s got two thumbs and believes in Jesus? This girl!) Talk about self-righteous.
What ticks me off is that once the issue blows over, a great majority – I’d gather, right around 97% – will do nothing other than offer their lip service. And will believe that they are worshipping God.
True worship takes love. A kind of love that I would venture to say is not humanly possible. I am incapable of loving anyone unselfishly; the only way I can love you the way you need to be loved is through Christ. Any of the church’s best efforts to “speak the truth in love” (I absolutely abhor that statement) ends up empty, to which I would respond, “you are ‘only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’.” The lack of love is clear.
What if worship looked like getting to know someone in a tough spot, and seeing them through the eyes of Christ? What if we saw their inherent value through the eyes of God, and looked past what they were struggling with, got to know them, and let them know just how much they are valued? What if we sought God, and what He is doing, in every situation, in every person? “People” are not “issues.”
Faith will show us people, loved by God. Religion keeps us focused on the issues, always at arm’s length, and never concerned with or interested in the value of the other person.