"How does it feel to hug someone who is really safe?" ~Jeff Probst of SurvivorI was watching Survivor this week, and it was the episode when they compete to have family visits. It is always both intriguing and awkward to see the contestants vulnerability come through as they see their loved one. The only time I don't remember any vulnerability was that weird older guy who hung out in his dark pink briefs and who was supposedly an FBI agent. He was either so crazy, or so into the game, that he never broke character.
But the other night, it was sad, to see how much a million dollars is worth. I get the game-outwit, outplay, outlast. I watch out of curiosity, for moments such as those when the masks are shattered and, for just a moment, a daughter hugs her daddy and Jeff asks, "How does it feel to hug someone who is really safe?"
Yesterday I received an email from a friend asking about the church. She and I have had many conversations about her journey but now she is thinking about stepping over the threshhold and attending a gathering. A friend of hers, who is at the same place in her journey, wants to come to church with her but is worried how she will be received since she is gay.
Even writing this, I sigh deeply.
We, as the church, can be so hurtful. Instead of practicing the church discipline of believers as prescribed in Matthew 18, we wag our fingers at the interested, the curious and commence to be the Holy Spirit in their lives attempting to convict them of their sin, to break them down into some pious goody two shoes before they even meet the Redeemer!
The church is not always a safe place.
We worry what someone will think about us. We believe the whispers are about our sin. We dress up the outside so no one will suspect the mess on the inside. We learn the language and the culture so that we can fit in with the herd. All the while, the church becomes our idol.
I know, not everyone is like this. I understand, no one starts out wanting that, not really. But when we forget the muck from which we were rescued or when we change behaviors without a heart change that results from grieving our brokenness and embracing the One who makes us whole, well, I guess we cannot expect more.
I don't think church is about making me good. If it does as a side effect, ok, but church is more like headquarters for me-visit to restock, get some new intel then back at it. I cannot, nor need I, live there. If God dwells within me, He goes with me. My place is in the world-lighting the darkness, shining on the road as a street light, providing a safe place to check a map, make a call, or just wait a moment. I am a witness of the mercy of God. My sin is great, my flaws are deep, but my Father's love is greater and his grace is deeper. I am not a mallet in the hand of God playing a divine game of Wac-A-Mole. I am to be an example of how good my God is!
I pray that if you have not found someone safe to hug in your church today, that you become that safe person for someone. This world is hurting outside, and inside, the church.