Having four siblings gets crazy sometimes.
I know that compared to other cultures and time periods it's not that many, but five children is certainly more than 2.5 or whatever.
My dad asked me on more than one occasion "Did you like it? Was it okay growing up with so many others around?" His concern was real, I could tell.
But I never even hesitated. I loved it. I've punched most of them (not the girl, don't worry) and I admit that the introvert part of me suffered. But would I trade it? Nope. Never a dull a moment.
And never a moment I couldn't learn from.
See all of them are very different. Rowan, who is my best friend, is the loudest, most haphazard and perhaps the most passionate guy I know. He sticks to his convictions even if it makes him look like a bulldozer (but fortunately his bedside manner has become really good). Andrea is the exact opposite of me on the myers briggs test. We've learned how to laugh about it and appreciate how utterly different our paradigm is on most everything. Lee, my older brother, has a cool subtleness about him and I love how we can communicate with slight nudges glances. We can be cats together. Luke and I are philosophical feelers, so we create stuff and say metaphors to each other.
I could go on, and honestly, I had a mini cry session before I got too far into that last paragraph, because I dig them all so much. But the reality is that there have been fists thrown, too. I've never beat up Luke, because he's the nicest kid ever (we usually just say a mean thing and then later we weep and make up like we're on Oprah).
But me and Lee and Rowan have brawled a bunch. The older sibling always wins — that's how it goes. A favorite moment of ours was when Lee somehow flipped me over his shoulder. When I landed we just all started laughing because how the heck did that even happen...
Anyway, it's rough sometimes. I've said horrible things to every single one of them. Things I'd be embarrassed to blog about. And I've been wounded as well. If you spend a lot of time with pretty much any human...eventually there will be scars.
But scars don't mean a lack of love. They can actually be marks of love. It means you've done life together. And if you can figure out how to repair, you're usually stronger for it. You don't have to eliminate all the conflict to still love each other.
So that's where church comes in.
I'm a church kid. I grew up in church. Pastorship is in my blood. I don't really know a world or life without some smattering of church involved. I confess it was rote for a while — I didn't really understand what the heck the point was, but praise and worship was fun if the guy stood on his head or something… and sometimes I got free candy for saying "jesus wept" or some other verse like it.
I've since come to believe in the Church. With everything I am, really. It's worth not giving up on. She's worth figuring out how to love.
But church is messed up.
We all have stories. If you're not upset with church in some way, then you probably just haven't been.
I couldn't possibly outline all the horrible stuff that's happened with the flag "Christian" over it. I'm not trying to say it's all okay and we should get over it.
But I am wondering if we could try and think about the Church like a really huge family. One where sometimes you have to draw boundaries in love. One where sometimes you keep hoping and praying someone might come around. One where you do everything in your ability to see others win. One where you just take one on the chin every now and then.
The reality is we're all somewhere on the scale between sinner and saint and we make up the Church.
So what are we to do?
Jesus did this really sweet thing. It's outlined in the book of Revelation. He talked to a bunch of different churches and pointed out things He was proud of and things that frustrated Him.
So to you, Christian, I suggest you adopt the same method. I mean… it was good enough for Jesus right?
It feels a little bit vulnerable, but here's a quick list as an example:
Dear Hillsong Church,
I owe you so much. You completely transformed my paradigm of church and your music has ministered to me probably more than any other worship music. I wish you wouldn't use so many vague metaphors and platitudes in your songs. I wish you gave people a little more permission to have lives outside of church.
Dear Joel Osteen,
You have a gift for building bridges with people. You have a profound ability to speak a simple message and connect with non-believers. The Gospel is frustrating and disappointing sometimes and I wish you'd let it be.
Dear John Piper,
You are always right and I agree with you on most everything. I find your ability to say true things refreshing in a world that loves the relative. Can you please have a drink and relax sometimes? The world will be just fine if it doesn't know what you think about every topic.
Dear Tim Keller,
You're actually perfect. hahahaha just kidding, I think.
Thanks for that dope new pope. Why must you make people sit and stand so much??
Good job on all that missionary work. And thanks for all the sweet techno raves.
Thanks for reminding us about the Holy Spirit. Please don't try to knock people over so much. Someone could get hurt.
Dear mega churches,
Thanks for being such ballers and welcoming so many people into life with God. Thanks for being relentless about reaching people. Remember: actually most of the work of being a Christian is done AFTER that big ol' conversion moment.
Dear small churches,
Thanks for holding down the fort and keeping things intimate and personal. Most of church is actually done by you. Don't be too snobby or hippie and think that big churches are evil because they have large projector screens. They're doing good, too.
Dear Joshua Garmon,
Thanks for being mostly concerned with character and your inner world. Don't be so afraid to say words.
Okay that's it!