This is awkward.
Knowing that, you'll understand a little more of why I absolutely hate the "meet and greet" thing that a lot of churches do. I mean, I hate it. In the past when I've experienced it I've just stood there like an idiot, starring at my feet and avoiding eye contact, and praying that everyone would just ignore me and move to the next pew. We've talked about this in the past, but honestly it's been quite a while since I've faced it head on. Until yesterday.
Me and my little family were out of town this past weekend visiting my Gramma. She lives in Keller, where I grew up. My hometown is one of those rapidly growing areas, so every time I go back they've added a shopping center, a high school, or another 100,000 people to their population sign. I kid you not, it's nuts. Usually, we skip out on Sunday church when we're there. Visiting a church with 3 small kids isn't what I call a good time, so we just don't. I know, just call me Heathen.
I'm not sure why, but this time was different. Gramma's been visiting a new church and I was curious to check it out. And so, I told her we'd go. Now, we have to chase a small rabbit so bear with me, because you have to know a little about Gramma. She is, hands down, the closest thing to Jesus there is on this earth. You may have a little old lady in your life that you think is closer, but you'd be wrong. Gramma is it. We are called, as Christians, to be imitators of Christ, and this woman fulfills that calling like you wouldn't believe. She is the bomb.
So, Sunday morning rolls around and I've just dragged myself out of bed after a long, restless night. I walk into the kitchen just in time to hear Gramma warning my mom that this is one of those churches that does the "meet and greet" during worship. Now, I say warning because my family is anti-social across the board. We're not snobs, we just aren't fans of small talk with strangers. OK, so maybe we are snobs.
When I heard said warning my first instinct was to stay home. I had plenty of legitimate excuses. We hadn't slept well. Kids would be cranky. It was raining. Storms were coming and we needed to get on the road before it got bad. I didn't want to leave my kids with strangers. What if they cried when I dropped them off?
All this was running through my mind, and the temptation was hefty. But, greater than my desire to avoid an awkward situation, was my desire to not disappoint Gramma. So, I wiped the sleep out of my eyes, got everyone ready, and headed to church.
From the minute we got out of the car this was one of the best church visits I've ever had. I dropped the kids off at the nursery without so much as a shed tear. We found our seats, the people were friendly, the set up was great, it was all around wonderful. And you know what, the meet and greet wasn't that terrible. Awkward? Yes. Will I be recommending it to my pastor? No. But, it brought to light some hypocrisy in my life.
Over and over again I'm telling you that the Christian life isn't meant to be comfortable. Yet here I am ready to run away and hide when I sense the tiniest discomfort up ahead. How easily I could have opted to stay home, and how hugely I would've missed out as a result!
Consider this: What is more likely to affect a change in your life, something comfortable or something uncomfortable?
Think about it.
Do you migrate toward the Sunday School class that you fit the most easily into? Or do you dare to go into the deeper waters where you feel a little more vulnerable, and a little less at ease?
Do you stick close to the areas of ministry that best utilize your gifts and talents? Or do you allow God to use you in areas that aren't your specialty, at which point He gets the glory rather than you?
Do you surround yourself with people that are just like you, because your friendships with them are easy and well established? Or do you reach out beyond your social circle and take an interest in lives that don't look exactly like your own?
My friends, I'm convicted. Sometimes we get so caught up in the extremes of our life and faith, that we miss the subtle hypocrisy that is engulfing us. I have no issue with an uncomfortable conversation about Christ with a stranger, I'll jump in and engage in a heartbeat. I have no issue with the discomfort that comes with serving somewhere new, I like a challenge. But, I'm bothered to the point of a sick stomach at the mere thought of mingling with believers outside of my comfort zone (i.e. my church home).
I almost didn't go, and it really wasn't for the right reason that I decided to go. But, let me tell you why I'm glad, reason aside, that I braved the uncomfortable and went.
The worship was great and the sermon was great, but it was one point that stood out to me above all the rest. The pastor was coming out of Ephesians 5, and toward the end of the sermon he was talking about judging others. How it's not for us to judge the lives of unbelievers, etc., and he said, "Your life exposes the darkness in their life."
I'm not a note taker, but I grabbed an offering envelop and jotted that down so I wouldn't forget it. Then he added, "You can speak truth, only after you've lived truth."
Take a minute and let that seep into that thick little noggin of yours.
It's easy for me to tell you how to be a good mother. It's easy for me to tell you how to better love your husband. It's easy for me to tell you how to be successful in ministry, in your prayer life, in your career. It's even easy for me to tell you how to prepare healthy, tasty meals for your family. But, does any of that matter if I'm a hateful wife, a deadbeat prayer warrior, and a lazy mother who constantly feeds her family junk?
Would it matter how powerful of a Christian blogger I am, if my faith was dead in the water?
Talk is cheap, people. We can all be virtual Christians, that's easy. Even the world can do that. What makes us different is when our faith in Christ translates into our every day reality.
When we live it. When we breathe it. When we share it. When we fight for it.
I'm thankful for the opportunity I had yesterday to visit this church family. If you're in the Keller area and aren't a member of a church body I would seriously encourage you to go check them out. You can find them online here. If you visit tell Gramma I said hi. She's easy to spot, she looks a lot like Christ.
When was the last time you visited a new church? What was your experience like?