If you didn’t grow up in church, I’m going to give you another reason to think church people are crazy…
Not only did I grow up in church, but I attended a Christian school for most of my childhood. It sure seemed like we had a lot of rules; sometimes it felt like there were rules for rules. Now I get that you have to have some rules, the world sliding into reckless chaos is no fun place for innocents, but it seemed like some of the rules we had growing up were a little ridiculous. Here’s one for you: during chapel times, we were told that to rest our bibles on the floor was being disrespectful to God. Now as a child, I remember thinking to myself, that the last thing I wanted to do was be disrespectful to God. In fact, I really liked God, but in my childlike mind I couldn’t reconcile that resting my Bible on the floor in the gymnasium was the same thing as being disrespectful to God. There was just no other place to put it if I was sitting on my chair.
I guess it was easier for the parents of my generation to call something sin than to actually parent us through it. I get that some kid was probably tossing a Bible around in the gym, but rather than have a messy conversation with one kid, it was easier to make a rule for every kid. If we had questions about it, all they’d have to tell us was that it was sin and God didn’t like it. Short conversation. Actually, not really a conversation at all.
I was pulled out of a Bible class one time because I had the “audacity” to ask a question which was apparently off limits about something minor I can’t even remember. My high school Bible class teacher pulled me into the hall and told me “sometimes you need to leave the beliefs of your parents”. The trouble is, my parents were actually the pastors of the church I grew up in. So here a school teacher was trying to tempt me away from the shepherds God had given me because it was easier than his opinion being challenged. I said something in my heart that day that most of my generation said at one time or another. “I’ll live like you when I want to be like you.” Here was a man who had a pastor that he probably didn’t want. A spiritual shepherd that God gave him as a gift.
I think I knew in that moment that my generation was leaving church. I’m not sure that we left God, it’s just that He was so often represented as someone petty and afraid, who couldn’t keep from contradicting Himself.
When I look back now, it sure feels like we were pushed out of the relationships that could have saved us, so our parent’s generation could escape the responsibility of presenting the Gospel of Jesus to us as it is, not as they wanted it to be. They were so afraid of breaking God’s rules that they made supplemental rules for the real rules, and then somewhere along the way got the two of them mixed up.
And we left. It was just too complicated.
Some of us stayed, and many of us are coming back now. Some of us found a real faith for unreal times. It turns out that it wasn’t complicated. In fact, the real Gospel is simple.
…but it is harder than what our parents had. Much harder…. But we don’t care about that. We just want something real.