Two comments I've heard in the last week:
"I want a Sunday morning that matches the rest of my week."
"We wanted a lifestyle that was consistent with our beliefs."
The first comment was said to me over pizza and beer by a Dutch immigrant who attends a Baptist church in a small town. The other comment was on a video at a benefit dinner, and said by an attorney who now lives in Cambodia and rescues slaves from brick kilns.
One man has already come half away around the world, and can't find what he's looking for. The other man went halfway around the world, and found what he was looking for. Both men knew that the American Christian lifestyle sold to them by pulpits and bookstores was a sham. The deepest longings of their heart have won out, and their desire to follow Christ has become greater than their desire to stay put.
What is my Dutch friend looking for on Sunday mornings? Does he want his Sundays to change to match his Mondays and Thursdays, or do his Fridays and Saturdays need to change to match his Sundays? And for the Chattanooga lawyer – could he have changed his beliefs to match his comfortable life in Tennessee instead of packing up his family and moving to another country in order to combat human trafficking?
I once read a trite phrase (I think in someone's house while sitting on the toilet) that said, "If you and God aren't close anymore, guess who moved?" I still don't know what the answer to that is. I'm afraid to answer. I feel like any answer could be right. Maybe I moved and went off the deep end and started gambling and spending time with loose women. Or maybe God moved and started fighting for justice around the world instead of fighting heresies of transubstantiation and infralapsarianism within the church.
What changed in the life of the Dutch therapist to make his Sunday mornings disconnected with the rest of his life? He became more passionate about helping homeless people. He felt that the call on his life was to feed the hungry and give to the poor, all in the name of Jesus. Yet his Sunday morning worship experience still centered around four contemporary praise songs and a sermon about 'faithfulness' or something else found in a book that sits on the top of most people's toilet tanks. His Sunday mornings would match the rest of his week if he could sit amongst friends and wrestle with the changes he needs to make to ensure he's living out the call of the Kingdom of God in his life. And he would call that 'church.' And God would see that it was good.
The Chattanooga lawyer couldn't work any longer filing briefs and drafting contracts from the cozy confines of his mahogany-laden office. Knowing that there are more slaves today than at any other point in human history weighed heavy on his heart. A passionate man who likewise had a calling to fight for the oppressed, the only thing he could do was change his country of residence. Now, his morning commute is not to a corporate office park. It's to an underground lair of teenage sex slaves in an attempt to arrest the man who runs the brothel and emancipate the victims of injustice. And he calls that 'church.' And God sees that it is good.
So many of our churches pander to the status quo. Church has become another social ritual. For many of us, we go and leave every Sunday, and are never challenged to make sure we're living out the mandates of God as we seek to bring about God's realm on earth. Instead of ensuring that people continue to go through the motions in order to feel good about their life that needs to change, we need people and organizations that challenge the way things are so that we see a disconnect between the way we live and the way we believe. And something will have to change.
Maybe we'll need to change our life in order to match our beliefs. Maybe we'll need to change our Sundays to match our Wednesdays. But if we're serious about following this Jesus who fought for justice and sought to make God visible to all, then guess who needs to change?