My sister, brother-in-law and I recently started a Biggest Loser competition amongst ourselves which will run to the New Year. Whoever loses the biggest percentage of body weight by New Year's Day will be the winner. We were supposed to start by weighing ourselves Sunday morning. So, I got a cheap scale over the weekend (the boys drowned ours in our soaker tub at our last parsonage) which happens to be resting comfortably in its box on our bedroom floor. I CANNOT bring myself to step on the stupid thing!! The thought of stepping onto that scale and seeing precisely what I've done to my body over the past few years is terrifying! I already can't button half of my pants, do I really have to have a number to put with it too? My heart is palpitating just thinking about it! Yet, if I want to be back into my size 12 clothes by Christmas, I'm going to just have to suck it up (not in) and do it!
In thinking about my big weigh-in, it occurred to me that perhaps this is how many non-church goers feel about walking into church. Not the fatness, but the fear and anxiety that comes when you feel you're not good enough. In the past, there has been this notion that in order to be a Christian you have to be "good". Christians have it all together, have all the answers, are "holy" and better than others. For most of us Christians, the reality could not be more different. We are not always "good", our lives are messy, we have tons of questions and are "holy" works-in-progress.
The point is that, much as I try to suck-in and ignore my burgeoning weight, so many Christians try to suck their lives in on Sunday mornings to paint a pretty picture for others around. Yet, if we want to truly witness to the message of Christ, we have to be willing to put it all out there. We have to be willing to say to others, "Yeah, my life can be a mess, but God loves me anyway!" We need to let non-Christians know that they don't have to conform to any standard, or fit any sort of mold to receive the love of Jesus Christ.
I remember a sermon illustration in which a pastor took out a crisp, clean ten dollar bill. He showed it to the congregation, then proceeded to crumple the bill into a tight little ball. The new bill was now thoroughly wrinkled. In addition, the pastor tore the edges around the bill so that it appeared frayed and disheveled. His point was that no matter what the bill looked like, it was still worth ten dollars. The same can be said for God's love for us. It doesn't matter what our lives look like--crisp and clean or wrinkled and frayed--God loves us completely. We are his children and he wants to welcome us with open arms.
Church shouldn't be a weigh-in. Instead, people should feel weightless. "Come to me all who are weary, and I will give you rest." God will meet us wherever we are--we just need to come.
Blessings and Peace,