move up a pew or two

The more uncertain our world is (politically, socially and economically), the lower our personal tolerance is for vulnerability and uncertainty. – Brené Brown

I think I just might create a bitly link for that and tattoo it on my forehead.

My Netflix binge of choice these days is Mad Men, where women dressed darlingly, men were dashing, and they all behaved very badly.  There’s a scene in the first season where one of the partners suffers a major health crisis.  He is pale, quivering, and asking questions – nothing like the ultra-confident, arrogant, womanizing version of himself you see until then.  In tears and facing death, he’s asking about his soul, and then embracing his wife and daughter, from whom until that point he has been quite estranged from.  And then of course a few episodes later he assures his mistress that she's the finest piece of -

You get the picture.

The scene caught my attention because we’ve all done it.  Deferred the difficult, brave questions and decisions that lead to a better life in favour of the status quo, however naughty, easy or numbing it may be.

My favourite high school course was grade 11 World Religions.  Despite our bus driver grazing the side of a temple arch and half the class having their own “pseudo-spiritual experience”, our place of worship field trip remains a fond and vivid memory.  A second lifetime later, I found myself still immersed in the same single religious culture I was born into, afraid (-slash-lazy?) to learn about anything else.  My faith life was robotic and works-based and pretty self-righteous (ministry checklists can do that to you).  The curiosity that I had been both detecting and suppressing eventually entered my peripherals and slowly started entering my conversations with a trusted few.  I quietly started exploring in a way that started feeling like I had chosen the red pill and slid down a rabbit hole of googling, listening to podcasts, watching videos, visiting other churches and of course cracking my bible open proper.  The first time I watched a YouTube video of a contemporary Christian music performance, I was dumbfounded, staring at the screen as if it was the world’s first talkie.  I could not reconcile their behaviour to what I understood worship to be all these years.  These people were in love, were in love and they didn’t care who knew it.

The rest is history – well, really, an ongoing story, but I am living a more authentic faith life today than ever.  It is growing deeper roots every day, as I stretch out to learn more and to practice more.  But it took me years to get brave enough to make it happen.  Thankfully, though, before a season of desperation where getting closer to God could have been just about fire insurance.

I have a challenge for you.  

Try moving up a few pews, listen more intently, read up on the significance of the things you do there, and find out how other Christ followers are living out a call we undeniably share – to love.  

Friend, quit complacency.  I’m not luring you out of your church, be assured.  But don’t be content with doing certain things because you were told to.  Be where you are because that’s where you are well cared for and are compelled to feed right back into that community and beyond.  Be there because you feel best equipped there, where you are both convicted and motivated.  Go there because you see God there above all things and all people there.

In light of the Brene Brown quote, there needs to be a sense of urgency on figuring this out.  Your relationships, your children and your future will thank you for taking the time back when you weren’t pressured by circumstances to establish your non-negotiable values and beliefs.

Oh and by the way, one other thing that all Christ followers can’t deny the call to – because it shows up over 350 times in the bible – be not afraid.