In a vision given to St. Francis of Assisi God asked him to build His church. I think we are all given the same call today, to build God’s church. What are churches for? I believe it is a place for people to come and take rest. These are not my words. This is what the Lord says. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”.
Has this been your experience after a Sunday Morning worship? If yes Thank God. You have found the right place. Continue to nourish your soul. If not, Why? May be because we come with some a few chips on our shoulders. The biggest chip that creates tension than relaxation I found is the fear of being judged by the other. What would the pastor think of the dress I am wearing? Would he find out that I am not as clean inside as I look outside? What would Sally think of my hair if it is well kept? What would Joe think about the tie I am wearing? The color of the dress, the leather of the shoe, the smell of the deodorant and the list goes on. It hasn’t turned out to be a relaxing place after all. Because you got to really make sure that everything is well coordinated before you can step foot into the door of God’s house. If you can then dodge the bullets from the pastor’s sermon; whew… you made it through another Sunday!
Fear of being judged is a terrible feeling. Only those who have been judged know how it feels like and that is you and me. This can only be overcome by a community of loving people who knows and remembers what it feels like being judged and does something about it. However we all suffer from dementia when it comes to judging others. We easily forget that we have been judged before. We have forgotten that it is the property of God to judge and we freely have taken our place on the judgment thrown of God without being invited to share it.
To ease this tension, let me assure you, God has made us obnoxiously unique. I am sure someone is going to frown his or her brow reading this saying, “how dare he says we are obnoxiously unique”. Take delight in this that God is still happy with you though. It is because I can assure you that there is every reason for someone else in the world to judge you for what you are on the best day of your life. If anybody thinks otherwise, I would suggest get a new mirror of grace to see what you actually look like inside when no one else sees you but God. Our best judgment is worse than the worst judgment God can ever make, if God does! So, it will be better for us to let our obnoxious righteousness be put to rest so that God’s grace can actually hunt for us and carry us on His shoulders.
This can only happen when the spirit of Babel disappears from within us. What was the spirit of Babel? The spirit of the people of Babel was the fear of the other, their languages, their appearances, their pride, their righteousness and even the fear of being judged. We believe we speak one language. We don’t. We speak multiple languages everyday. When we are afraid we speak a language of fear. When we are angry we speak a different set of alphabets put together. It is not even a language many times. When we are jealous then there is a new set of phrases and languages that come up. I am very certain that none of us truly understand the other exactly even when they say the words we seem to know the meaning for. If we did, there will be no more divorces, fights, or tensions in our families. Only the Spirit Of Pentecost can help us remove our fears of the other.
Here is a way out of this situation. Speak a language all of us will understand. Speak the language of love that is patient and kind; that is not jealous or pompous or inflated or rude. Let it not be quick tempered or afraid of the other. (1 Corinthians 13) Speak a language of love for it has no alphabets or phrases.
This is what churches are meant to be. A church as a whole is called to be a place where all the chips we bring in as we walk in are to be deposited for safe keeping at least until the church is over. I can guarantee you that all of us will grab them back as soon as we come out. Do not worry. I am sure eventually we will leave our chips back for God to do whatever is best with them. That is when a church becomes truly a church. Until the chips are left in the basket of God, churches are still buildings with four walls, and a roof and we are a co-dependent people and pastor.
I hope you will find meaning for your life beyond co-dependent relationships in our churches to the freedom of the Children of God. Build your church on the grounds of freedom from fear mixed with the fountain of compassionate love. There is nothing more freeing than being freed of the need to judge and the fear of being judged.