Jesus Embarrassed by an Easter Service?
I attended church on Easter Sunday. And if Jesus went to the church I did, I think he might cringe or weep, just like I wanted to.
To my contemporary, consumeristic, American mind this service had everything – so polished and well performed. To the professionals who led and facilitated it, in their minds it would be a thing of beauty. No modern, hip, motivated pastor employed by the church would be embarrassed about it. But I think Jesus might be embarrassed by it and see right through it to the heart of things.
First, there was so much talk about suffering and death on Easter Sunday morning. On the one Sunday out of the whole church year when we should talk about life and all that it means we still have this deep need in the church to talk about sin, death, suffering, blood, thorns and crosses. And it’s all for the after life – what Jesus did so we can be assured of heaven after we die. But what about life now? What about transformation now? What would the transformational message be for this life, right here and right now? The church doesn’t even seem to know how to talk about it – it’s entrenched in the message of sin, death, and suffering that we don’t even know how to talk about resurrection life?! We’ve been through Good Friday and Holy Saturday already. In fact the lives of so many seem to be one big crucifixion, they know it well already – for God sake and their sake Church, talk about resurrection life – what it means and how to access it now! Or don’t you know? Isn’t each Sunday a celebration of Resurrection?
“Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Second, the service was simply one big performance. And it was one big commercial for how great our church is, so you’ll come back for more. A photographer was roaming around the sanctuary taking pictures of the people in the congregation – especially the ones who went up to the front who responded to receiving Christ as their Savior. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people coming to faith in Christ. And thank you God for the good that came out of this service. But taking pictures of the people so we can advertise how wonderful, hip and relevant our church is, doesn’t sit right with me. And it was an illustration for me about the truth that something is wrong at the core of the consumeristic contemporary church. I can’t quite explain it, but it didn’t feel right. I was embarrassed by it for the sake of others perhaps.
I guess I just don’t want to be a part of a church that is that hip, that relevant, that polished, that performed. But I hunger for a church that is real, unpolished, unperformed, unplugged, unpretentious and even a little bit unhinged. Not ego driven, but love driven. Not solely concentrating on sin and death, but also on joy and resurrection throughout the year – at least on Easter. Sharing the message of good news that is not solely about an evacuation plan for heaven but a transformational plan for earth. And not trying to impress anyone with it’s “slickness” but sharing from the heart, to the heart in a real, unpretentious, “unsalesy” (I’m sure that’s not a word) kind of way. But I think that much of the church is somewhat blind and unaware. And yet I think people hunger for more realness, authenticity and the life changing message of God’s life and love. And when that is preached and lived by the people within the church, to those outside the church, the natural result will be a natural attraction to the light and love of God – no salesmanship required.
O God, I love the church and you love it even more. May it evolve, transform and change so that it makes you smile rather than cringe or even weep.