Walking through the front door of that church building was like passing through a portal to a different world. So much was unfamiliar. For the first time I heard about “propitiation,” “puppet ministry,” and “pot luck suppers.” I stood for “fellowship,” knelt for prayer, and sat on a hard wooden bench (which they called a “pew.”) I saw more polyester in one morning than I had my entire life. I experienced church snack time, which consisted of little pieces of cracker and small plastic shot glasses of grape juice. A man explained that we would be singing hymns 11, 52, 17, and 63. I almost yelled out, “Bingo!”
So much was foreign to me that first Sunday. But now with seventeen years of going to church, I can tell you that there is something very familiar about most of the Christians I’ve met. Unfortunately, it’s not that they remind me of the people who populate the pages of Scripture. Instead, they remind me of a little girl named Emily.
Little Emily looks cute in her souvenir shirt that proclaims, “My parents went to Florida and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” But there’s something sad about it too. She missed the journey. She didn’t get to take part in the adventure. While others broke out of their dull routine, Emily missed the excitement of doing something different. She didn’t get to play in the waves or hug Mickey. She didn’t get to experience the joy. Even the horrifying incident when the tire blew out and Stan, the self-proclaimed “Good Samaritan Redneck,” rescued the family in his Sanford & Son pickup truck has quickly become a fond memory for everybody. Everyone except Emily. She missed the journey.
As I’ve gone to church and met Christians and lived as one myself I’ve realized something. We are Emily.
When I read about the lives of the first Christians in the pages of the New Testament I see people who actually went to Florida, who truly experienced the vacation. But when I look around at Christians today, I see people who just wear a t-shirt for an adventure they’ve missed out on. We’re missing the journey. We’re stuck in the same dull routine. We’re missing out on the joy and fear and laughter and doubt and mystery and confusion of following Jesus, of taking great risks for God, of praying dangerous prayers, even of being spiritually attacked.
We wander around with lifeless shark eyes.[want to read more - get the book!]