The other day, we were driving to church, with my two boys in the back. I always catch myself on this drive, trying to prepare my thoughts and words to be “ready for church.” If you are “normal” like us, our Sunday morning routine usually consists of sleepy and irritable children, a sleepy and irritable mommy, short tempers, hurry, hurry, hurry, and missed breakfast, hoping there will be donuts left when we get there. When my heart should be singing “come, now is the time to worship,” my mouth is saying, “stop that! don’t touch your brother! no yelling! don’t you dare unbuckle your seat belt! you better listen to your Sunday school teacher this morning!” And yet, somehow, we manage to put on our “church” faces and happy smiles just in time to walk in the front door and be greeted by the usher. Whew!
What if we were real with each other? Would I be voted “off the island” if when somebody asked me “how are you?,” I was actually honest? If instead of giving my normal nonchalant response of “fine,” I dared to be vulnerable? What if we prayed with our sister in her time of need, instead of talking to others about her struggles? What if we didn’t use the phrase “I am sharing this as a prayer request, of course” as an excuse to gossip about our brothers and sisters? What if, when we have an offense with somebody, we brought that offense to the Lord first and invited Him to perfect our hearts?
On one of these crazy Sunday drives, my six year old son told me he didn’t want to go to church. When I asked him why, he responded that he was tired and wanted to play at home. The Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity to share with my son about how blessed we are in America to have the freedom to gather for church. We can join with our friends and family and read the Bible together and worship the Lord together, without fear or persecution. I was amazed at the twinkle in my son’s eyes as he began to understand that little boys his age in other parts of the world do not get to go to church with their families. And yes, we do experience persecution in America for being Christians. Jesus said that we would be persecuted and He was persecuted. Yet…at least for now…we will not be imprisoned for sharing our faith.
We need to wake up and realize that we have the opportunity when we gather in our corporate settings of worship, to pray for each other, be real with each other, cry with each other, support each other, challenge each other, be accountable to each other. Where women of all ages, all body sizes, all personality types, married, single, divorced, widowed, barren, or bringing a small bus full of children…can be in one room together and be a community. And I believe that “church” does not just happen on Sunday morning or Wednesday night. Church happens every day of our lives, every encounter with another person. The disciples traveled miles and miles, following Jesus. Imagine how severely their impact would have been stifled if they “set up camp” in one building, and Jesus spoke once a week and the disciples sat in rows in front of Him, and they just expected people to come and listen. So, I challenge you. Do church. Do life. Every day. In your homes. At your jobs. At the store. At the park. Yes, even at the DMV! Pray for each other. Lift each other up in word and deed. Let us walk this life together. And when somebody asks you how you are doing, be real. And when somebody is real with you, pray for them. Right then and there.