Weights and Measures – Lenten Day 6

Posted: February 23, 2015 in Lent, Uncategorized, When Church Hurts
Tags: , , , , , ,

January 19, 1979. I sat in the darkened sanctuary looking at a single candle on the altar and gave in to Jesus. No strings attached. No to-do list or even to-done list. I didn’t have to prove anything or accomplish anything or sacrifice anything. Jesus was the proof. Jesus did the accomplishing. Jesus was the sacrifice.

As someone who hadn’t grown up in church and was essentially an empty vessel hungry to be filled, I devoured everything I could about this thing called Christianity. And right away, I started seeing that I had to do things. I had to give. I had to sacrifice. I had to study. I had to memorize. I had to attend. I had to work. I had to accomplish. I had to prove.

“If you’re really a Christian, you will do your daily devotions.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will be in church twice on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, too.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will volunteer for every activity, program, or event that the church hosts.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will give to the church even if you can’t pay your utility bill or buy groceries this week.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will read your bible all the way through every year.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will obey the leaders and support whatever they want to have happen.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will never get angry, never be sad, and never worry.”

“If you’re really a Christian, you will never do anything ‘wrong’ – and ‘wrong’ is whatever someone else decides because they have the right and authority to judge.” (But we don’t call it ‘judging.’ We call it correcting or rebuking or discipling.)

I had come to belief with no strings attached, no need to measure up. But then with each step in the walk of faith, I was given directives that moved me further and further away from “just as I am” and deeper and deeper into “you’d better . . . ” Pray (more), give (more), do (more), study (more), know (more), be (more).

Lent became one of the ultimate “more” seasons. Give up more. Take on more. Confess more. Beat myself up more.

But always in the back of my mind was this gnawing idea that “more” was not right, required, nor necessary. Every moment of every day, deep down, I knew that it was okay for me to come just as I am.

And so when I finally walked away from all of the “If you’re really a Christian” demands, I found myself back at the place where it all started. With Jesus’ sacrifice. With Jesus accomplishing. With Jesus as proof. And I let the rest go.

Not that I don’t pray. Or do. Or give. Or meditate. But that I do it without striving. Without proving. Without (dare I say it?) sacrificing.

Rather, with joy. And eagerness. And compassion. And faith. And trust.

Rather like a child. Rather like that nineteen-year-old child in that dark sanctuary. Focused on the light of Jesus. Just as I am.

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