When I was a kid there was this beautiful old hymn, that imagine still exist today. The title was “Just As I Am” …forgive me for not remembering the composure’s name. It still have that song in my head sometimes today. It was beautiful and heartfelt. Unfortunately when it was played at the end of church service we knew we had twenty more minutes to stand and play hangman beneath the cover of the pew in front of us. It was a beautiful song, but was used cruelly to the point of having no meaning within the church buildings. …well none but twenty minute warning for a song that was only 3-5 minutes long. In the hands of the best evangelist it was a meaningless song that cried out for numbers and emotional abuse, instead of people and truth, but outside the building, on many dark quiet nights, it was beautiful to the point of tears.
How does this happen? How can something beautiful by nature become morbid, dull, and nullifying in the hands of well-meaning folks?
The modern day phenomenon known as “church” has an amazing filtration system for straining out gnats and swallowing camels. They’re especially trained in tactics, rituals, and hype. It’s always business as usual with a new Clark Kent disguise at best. To say we’ve lost touch with the root and who we are as a people of God would be like eating a burger at McDonalds and expecting that you’re eating 100% grass raised organic Bison. The words “not likely” seem to be much too polite to even be a downplay of the reality at hand.
I’m harsh on mainstream modern Christianity for two reasons. One: I grew up on the inside, I’ve gone in as deep as it goes, or nearly. Two: I believed in it, once upon a time, but we never synced up. I tried. I failed. I moved on. And Three: I read my Bible, I believe in God, I say my prayers, and I can’t stand to imagine my fate being the fate of many thousands more kids to come. People have told me you can’t change things from the outside, but the only people who said so where on the inside, so how would they know? They haven’t changed anything that matters, unless they want to take credit for the downfall which has perpetual come upon this thing called church.
I pray for something different than the hype and revivals of our forefathers.
When church systems and religious rules get involved I see less of God. They can paint his names on posters, but just because someone else wears the same name tag as my husband, doesn’t mean I will run and smooch that person. On the other hand, if my husband isn’t wearing name tag, I will still embarrassingly kiss him publicly, because I love him. I know him. I recognize him in crowd. My heart is drawn to all our history together. His face is speckled with my memories. He is dear to me. I don’t depend on name tags and familiar places to recognize my great man in front of me. I know him. I love him organically (so to speak).
My personal time with my husband everyday contributes to our relationship in ways at no one else ever could or would. There are things I can only know about my husband by talking with him, spending time with him, and an occasion arguing with him. …because it requires variances to know someone. How much more with God?
A song can hold outstanding beauty but if that song speaks of cherishing, but it’s only used to put the moves on someone… then the song loses its meaning. If the song is about bad days and it’s sung in happy tone, it loses its meaning and potency. If the song states how you desire to be honest, but is used to provoke reaction, then it’s disdainful to even hear.
There is a time for everything. But too often we don’t care to wait for the right time, now is the right time. Our inconsiderate use of beautiful gifts make everything ugly. Our get it right with Jesus in the next hour and we’ll send you this guilt free card, system isn’t working. A system that says a relationship with God is personal, but has no more idea of what organic means the McDonalds latest CEO, really doesn’t cause me to believe. It’s a camel I can’t swallow. Personal to me, doesn’t mean one super compact hour a week or a day. It doesn’t mean shooting off prayers I read from some book. It doesn’t mean singing my favorite song until I feel something. It doesn’t mean finding someone who has my husband’s name tag and saying “good enough!” But that is the inevitable consequences of a system that promotes effectual goals, as processed food promotes the feeling of full but not satisfied. Our bodies and spirits starve under these conditions while we develope fat and disease. This isn’t the truthful, personal approach I’d hoped for.
I know it’s crazy but when I hear a song or tag line that says we’re allowed to be free, I want that! I want freedom without lying fine print. I want to be free for more than an hour. I want to come to God just as I am already at anytime, and find God able to deal with that graciously, honestly, and maybe on an occasions joyfully. Like maybe God would be happy if we spoke even if I haven’t put dirt on my head and told him what a wretch I am. Maybe a personal God would wake me up on some morning and give me joy or peace, like my husband who might kiss me in the morning. Maybe some nights a personal God might allow me to cry over those who have been cast off from this system like I have been, but they weren’t able to recover again like I did. Maybe a personal God might speak to me regularly even if I didn’t attend church buildings for the last 5-7 years. Maybe…
Maybe Just as I am could mean just that… at any given time. Maybe.