But then she came home, and the Church People smiled empty smiles and spoke empty words, and she spiraled. They joined an evangelical church. A house church. Another evangelical church. All those buildings, all those people, all that hot dish -- and still, she was a ghost.
One night as a last ditch effort, she went to a Beth Moore Bible study, and she needed someone to look at her and see it. She needed them to say, "Are you OK?" But instead they said, "If you were a fruit, what would you be?"And while they giggled and said orange! and raspberry! and pear! she slipped out early, drove home fast and furious, too mad to even cry.I started wondering why the church does this. Why, when we all proclaim our allegiance to a Savior that comes to seek and to save the lost, who accepts anyone and invites us all to come, do we forget all that and set up a new set of rules to demonstrate that you really know God and are theologically sound and a trustworthy person -- and then say explicitly or implicitly, "do these things, and we'll accept you."
I thought at first maybe we were too fond of the stories where God makes a swift move and the problem goes away. The disease is healed, the new employer calls out of the blue the next day, or the enemy bows their head and accepts the Lord. I'm not sure that is the whole story.
Could it be we still haven't fully accepted the Gospel? Specifically, we haven't accepted the bad news that makes the Good News so good. We really need him. We're messed up without him. We'd like to think we got back on our own feet, maybe. We'd like to think that that desperate moment when we knew all we could do was cry for mercy happened oh so many years ago, and we've advanced so far now. Now we're almost arrived, we're mature and we know how to live. Do we subtly think the plea for mercy because we were so far beyond ourselves was a phase we went through, now we're out the other side, and we can tell ourselves what we need to know now? And all we need now is our standards of behavior, and our complete doctrinal statement?
But if we understood deep down that God loves us and wants to make so much more of us than we can make of ourselves, we could look at desperate people and know what to say. "It's OK, he loves you, and I do too."