Sunday, March 13, 2011

gimme that old time religion?

Friday night was our weekly "Old People Night". On our outing we were discussing some frustrations with church and religion and Crystal mentioned that she didn't really understand the song Gimme That Old Time Religion. In fact, I'm pretty sure her words were "WHAT was good for Paul and Silas and how is it good enough for me?". I've been thinking about this a LOT this weekend and I don't really understand either. (NOTE: If you grew up in a Protestant church where you were tortured with Southern Gospel, you know this song!)

Old Time Religion. What is it? Tent Meetings? Camp Meetings? Being in church every time the doors are open? Singing Southern Gospel? Using only the King James Version of the Bible? I should do a survey, but I'm afraid that I would end up more frustrated than I am right now.

I grew up in a Baptist church where my entire family attended - parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I honestly grew up thinking that being a Christian meant you said you loved Jesus, you went to church every time the doors were open (VBS, Revival, Youth Group, Sunday morning, Sunday evenings, Wednesday evenings), you didn't drink, smoke or curse, you didn't have sex before marriage... (If you don't get the point I'm trying to make, stop reading right now because that "old time religion" is apparently working for you - God help you.)

Since those days, I've discovered a few things:
1. Jesus set the ultimate example for his followers. In fact, he was criticized for hanging out with sinners - not church people. If I were to guess, he probably would've preferred to spend time with people teaching through his life (walking it out) rather than taking up room in a pew with his rear end every Sabbath - oh wait, HE did. I don't have to guess about that one.

2. You can't keep doing the same things and expecting different results. If it's not working, try something else. I do this in my classroom and at the studio. The same things don't work for every group or individual. I may do something one year or one lesson and have to change it the next because it's simply not effective. So, why do we think that doing the same things in church that we did 50 years ago is still ok? The message hasn't changed but perhaps our methods for delivering it should. (Just a thought....)

3. You can't say you love people, then chastise them, ridicule them, and talk down to them and expect them to believe that you really love them. It's not our job to clean anything up. It's our responsibility as Christians to introduce people to Jesus, to love them like Jesus and let God do the rest. He doesn't need our help in that department. Stop being hateful and calling yourself a Christian - you're giving the rest of us a bad rap.

4. Home skillet - a sin is a sin. Let me say that one more time. A sin is a sin. Why do we try to attach levels of some sort - this is worse than that?

5. I'm not going to hell if I don't make the 'services attended quota' for the year. And just so you know, if you were there and someone else wasn't, saying things like, "I missed you. Things just aren't the same when you're not here" are a lot more effective than shaming the individual. Genuinely missing someone trumps a guilt trip/shaming any day.
(Thought: Isn't it more Christ-like to genuinely miss someone than to resort to shame?)

This list could seriously go on and on, but I say all of this to make a point:
I don't want your Old Time Religion. You can keep that mess. You're delusional if you think it's working anyways. I would rather spend my days walking out my faith and relationship with God. My influence is strongest at school and in my studio where I am every, single day. That is the 'territory' God has entrusted to me. My responsibility is to love my students like Jesus and carry them to Him. I am not judge nor jury - simply messenger through word and deed. And none of the 'non-churched' that I deal with on a daily basis could relate to your Old Time Religion. Shouldn't we be trying to meet them where they are rather than expecting them to come around to our not-so-effective ways of doing things?


ktjane said...

Oh don't EVEN get me started on #4! (Or on most of them really...)

All I can say is AMEN! And can we print this in the church newsletter?

Shos said...

Amen!! wow, I have been struggling with so many of these things myself! you gave me many things to think about today.

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