This morning I was reminded about what really matters when everything else is stripped away.
What are we really living for when the bare bones are left. When the spotlights aren’t shining, the sound system stops working, the chairs are half empty the children outnumber the adults, the screen has a typo and the graphics need updating. All of a sudden the truth isn’t so hard to find. The mud settles without so many things to turn it up and everything is clearer.
The people warmer, the love more vibrant, the words more passionate, the hurt more evident, the room more authentic. And going to church isn’t about what I got dressed in or if my kids combed their hair or if the song is on trend but it is about community and truth.
Truth that a broken, messy uncombed world so desperately needs. A church that is pieced together, unpolished and imperfect in all the ways that outwardly matter seems to be more on point and reflective of the world that it is trying to reach than the many that would balk at a typo and frown at an outdated song.
I sat in the rawness and simplicity of people from all walks of culture and life worshiping the One True God together and I wanted to cry because my soul is tired. Tired of the show. Tired of feeling like as a body of Christ we are just off the mark of what he called us to. Tired of trying to articulate, without being judgemental of the Church I have loved for so very long, where exactly we have gone wrong in being a hospital for the weak and weary instead of an elite backstage pass only for the put together and perfect.
I like pretty things. I like when everything matches and lines up. I like being on trend. Creating environments of warmth and comfort where people walk in and feel peace are important. Our God is the most creative God and I don’t believe that His Family should be forever behind on creativity. There is however an important truth that we can forget when our eyes are feasting and our human souls easily distracted by beauty. True peace only comes from God. It is peace that transcends all understanding and can show up in the most unpeaceful places.
When everything is stripped away, Jesus still shines. He doesn’t need all of the extra to be Himself. Present. Healing. Love. Sanctifier. Restorer. He can speak wherever and through whomever in whatever circumstances He so desires. He is above our petty ideas of success and his faithfulness and worthiness outlive the on trend preaching styles, melodies and decor. He never changes and it is his character, person and plan that draw people to himself.
When all else is stripped away, the true motives of hearts are exposed. Open. Raw. Authentic. Then everyone can see if the outward was a leading of the Spirit to reach a culture or a whitewashed tomb hiding selfish ambitions and rotten motives.
Both are prevalent. Both are true. And the question we need to ask ourselves, is where have we fallen? Are we truly living for what matters or have we gotten swept up in the deceiving trends of a polished outward driven culture? I have to ask myself is there anything more beautiful then imperfect, transparent people loving each other well? And I may have to answer, no, I don’t believe there is.
Steph is a mom to four girls and wife to one very supportive man. She is the Executive Director of Stories Foundation and is passionate about fighting for freedom both spiritual and physical. Her days consist of car pooling, ministry, parenting and lots of coffee.