The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

moving across the country…to discover what God has in store

My Own Sardis

Mont-St-Michel

The pastor at my church has been going through the churches of Revelations (see chapters 2-3…actually, you should check out chapter 1, too).  It has been fascinating to consider how the messages that appear to be designed for the people of Ephesus or Pergamum apply to our lives.  Yesterday, we were on The Church of Sardis, which my pastor described as “The Dead Church”.  According to him, this is the saddest of seven epistles.

Consider, for a moment, that you meet Jesus.  Somehow, through some immense moment, He is there.  He looks at you and says, “You are dead.”

Cut to the heart.  That is what this church must have felt.  They had fallen so far away from the passionate love that comes from living and breathing in the Spirit…to be called “dead”.  I loved the metaphor, used by my pastor, of Spirit as water.  The Spirit does for the soul what water does for the body (yeah, I’ve heard that before…but it clicked this time).  We have the choice to drink in that Spirit…or, we can just suck up coffee, soda, and kool-aid.

Basilique du Sacré-Coeur

The sermon was deep and powerful.  As it came to a close though, he said that we cannot blame a dead church for our lack of growth; instead, we can choose to “wake up” (Revelation 3:2).  This statement started my wheels turning.  Although I haven’t dwelt on this much, I realize that at the end of May, I will have to return to my hometown; in turn, I will have to return to the church where I grow.  A church that I now characterize as “dead”.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a beautiful place to grow up.  There were so many loving, helping, guiding hands around me.  But there came a point where I was doing more leading than other church members.  I was a leader in the youth group and my spiritual growth no longer seemed so great a concern.  The focus was on bringing more people in and discipling them.  When I graduated, I didn’t know how to be discipled.  All I knew how to do was lead small groups and participate in everything possible.

University chapel

But, then I came to college.  I found a church that enveloped me with love; I found a family that didn’t ask for every ounce of strength.  Instead, they gave…they inspired…they lifted.  Whenever I go home and attend that old church, my heart breaks.  I know that there is something different from dried out hymns and over-wrought sermons.  I know that there are people who give hugs to homeless people and smile at noisy babies.

I know there is something different…something with life…but, what will I do when I go back for an entire summer?  As I started thinking about this yesterday, I thought that maybe I should just find a different church.  It’s just for a summer…but if it’s just for a summer, why don’t I just throw myself into that old church and try to bring some life into the old dried out leaves? (John 15:1-17)

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Thanks, but no thanks.

I am currently living in an awkward situation…and, I enter into this awkward situation every time I return home and attend church.  You see, I go to Sunday School.  And, I have this teacher in my Sunday School class.  Who is this teacher?  None other than my father.  He’s a fabulous man.  I love him and I enjoy spending time with him.  But…there’s this problem.  He is conservative.  Some would say “stuck in the mud” conservative.  OH!…wait.  I say that.  Having grown up in the same house with this man, I know most of his opinions.  I don’t relish the thought of sitting in a room with him for an hour…an hour that is his…where he can speak as he pleases.  This man is not shy about sharing how he feels about anything from homosexuality to tattoos to jihad.  He is entitled to his own opinion.  It’s not as though I want to deny him the right to his own opinion.  But, I feel as though my right to an opinion is being denied.

Because I know exactly how my father stands on many of these hot button issues, I feel that my opinion doesn’t matter.  In some ways, I guess it matters.  It matters that my opinion is exactly the same as his.  But…I don’t think that means that I get to have my own important opinion.

This is not to say that I feel incredibly different from my father.  I believe that God designed a man to be with a woman.  Just look at the anatomy.  And, I think that jihad, a type of war, is bad in most circumstances.  But, what if Christians were to say that they were in a “spiritual war”?  How is that different from Muslims feeling that their religion is being attacked?  That they are at war?  I’m not saying that I want to convert to Islam…but, I think that each person on this earth is entitled to believe however he or she chooses to believe.  I see no reason to push my views on the world.

Why?  Because each person deserves to have their own opinion.  Unfortunately, many people in the world do not feel this way.  And, a lot of the time, I think that my father is one of those people.  All I want to do is figure out what I believe.  I already know what he believes.  Believe you me…I know all too well.

I want to be able to ask questions and not have HIS answers shoved down my throat.  He nearly jumped down my throat a couple of weeks ago when I made a comment about conservatism in the South.  “Well, what’s wrong with that?”  I kind-of skipped past that answer and on to a different lunch time discussion topic.  Maybe going to a liberal arts school has fried my brain.  But, I really think that going to a “religious” school would have done the same thing to me.  I have questions.  Can’t anyone let me find the answers on my own?

(This is as close to I get to “free writing”…I didn’t even reread the whole thing.  Sorry for any massive typos.)

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