Yesterday I was at my office (read: Starbucks) and the staff was cleaning like crazy. It was beyond the regular cleaning that they do. I mean, they were cleaning the cracks, nooks and wherever their rags, brooms and mops would reach. One of the guys furiously rubbed the back of a chair to get off Lord knows what. His intense cleaning led me to say, “Dude, that’s some intense cleaning.” Turns out that the No. 2 of Starbucks was heading towards their store. They wanted to make sure that everything was in place and everything was spic and span for the No. 2. He even admitted, had it been a regional manager, they wouldn’t be cleaning this intensely.
Which reminded me of my childhood.
My room was always messy. Not as messy as my brother’s, but messy. And when we would have guest coming over, my mom would be on our cases to clean our rooms. Don’t know why we ever cleaned our rooms. 1) The guests never came and looked at my room and 2) it was just gonna get messy again. Why show them a side that wasn’t really me? Why put on a front? Why, Mom, why make me liar? Of course, it was either clean my room or 1) get nagged until my ears fell off, and then clean my room or 2) get nagged and then hit by my mom and then clean my room. Either way, my room was gonna get cleaned. My brother never fell for my bribes to clean my room. He was always selfish like that.
The two cleaning stories then reminded me of people who often didn’t want to go to church until they got their act right.
“I’d come to church, but I’m just not ready right now.”
“Oh, church would be great, but I should get my life straightened out before I go.”
How many of you have heard something similar to those statements?
Sadly, some places of worship places those sentiments on people’s hearts. They want clean and proper folks in their pews. Which leads me to say, all of them in the church are liars. Which then leads me to say, they need the church, so they’re at the right place. Which then leads me to say, stop being so judgmental and pray for forgiveness.
We should be reminding people that those who don’t have the answers, those who don’t have their acts or lives straightened out, the best place for them to be at is the Church! And we, as the church, would be seriously dropping the ball if we don’t get that message across.
God doesn’t want you to come with your best foot forward. God just wants you. As you are. God loves you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Not a single, damn thing.
This God is the God that finds beauty in brokenness; uses the weak to lead the strong; gives unmerited transforming love and grace, and so forth.
Ideally, we don’t have to clean up, we don’t have to wear our Sunday best, we don’t have to have our lives straight, we don’t have to have all the answers, we don’t have to be the Huxtables to be in the presence of God. God loves the Bundys and the Huxtables the same. (Please tell me you know who they are…)
Pastors, leaders, church goers: we all say “come as you are” or “open hearts, open minds, open doors” but what would it look like, how differently would it be if we really, really, really, really, really, meant it?
Some of you may start getting a little worried because “those” people may start coming (back) to church.
How scandalous is our God, when “those” people, while not welcomed in our nice suburban churches, are welcomed with opens arms into the kingdom of God.
“Come as your are.”
Dem some scary words, when we mean it.