I watch my five year old refuse menu items, one after another, because he’s never tried them before. And when you finally get one into his mouth, whether by choo-choo or airplane, threat or bribe, he often asks for more. He’s had five homemade waffles today, after some suspicion this morning when they did not come from a box in the freezer.
There’s just a second, as his palate communicates with his brain, when his eyes light up. And I suspect he doesn’t see that my eyes are lighting up with a satisfied “I told you so.”
More people should try church. It’s not what you think it is. I watch the cheap, two-dimensional caricatures on TV of obvious hypocrisy and clicheic religiosity. Those are at best the freeze-dried, boxed version of the real thing, if there’s any truth to them at all. Then I go to church.
At Glenkirk this year, we’ve taken in over five dozen members, who know they aren’t joining a country club and who have taken this step as sincerely as a soldier reciting the Pledge or a bride saying her vows. Or again, recently someone confided that they had taken charitable giving more seriously than they ever have before, without pressure, because they felt like giving. Or again, our community watched a preschool that we built on our own church patio set down on its final destination in a dirt field in South Africa a couple of weeks ago, our sweat for their education. This isn’t what’s on TV.
Last week at Glenkirk, I baptized the twelfth adult this year. I’ve watched tears join the water streaming down their temples, because they are making commitments as sure as a runaway coming home. Last week I presided at a sun-bathed wedding in which a young couple took sincere vows before God, which they carefully and intentionally articulated to Him. There was no show and no façade. These were open hearts before a receptive God. There were no two-dimensional characters and no ulterior motives.
The next day my wife and I celebrated my own fifteenth wedding anniversary. As we did so, I remembered the vows we had made. The promises made in faith before the Creator deserve better than caricature. They weren’t made for show or rote tradition. We meant them. And we still do.
So I’m afraid there are a lot of people as stubborn as a five year old shaking their heads at a church they haven’t tried, thinking that it’s going to taste remarkably different than it does. And I pray that one day I will get to see their eyes light up.