Do we find what we seek?

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When we come to church, do we find what we seek? Richard Rohr writes, “The way we’ve shaped Christianity, one would think it was all about being nice and middle class and ‘normal’ and under the law.” The phrase “we’ve always done it this way” is anathema to Christ. His alternative is “we need to do it God’s way.” Yet, we often seem to seek personal affirmation and a faith that fits within our lives. Jesus bids us to come and follow him (Luke 9.23). The way we practice our faith in the twenty-first-century U.S. sounds more like we invite Jesus to fit in with our lives. 

What are you looking for?

The way we practice our faith leads me to ask why we want Jesus to fit in with us. Fitting in with him and being transformed into new beings would be a richer experience (2 Corinthians 5.17). Struggling against transformation makes little sense. Rohr suggests that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph don’t fit in a nice, middle class, and normal kind of faith. Every part of the story, from Jesus’ birth to Easter, goes beyond our expectations. It was messy and Joseph even disobeyed the Law since it appeared that Mary had been unfaithful. The Law required him to divorce Mary (or break off the engagement). God had other plans and can work in spite of us.

Christmas brings many people to church. Some come to find a spiritual center during the holidays. Some come out of habit. Others come because they want to please someone, and they know that coming to church will make the person they care about happy. Still, there’s another reason to come. This reason is: God-incarnate, Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. 

When we come to church seeking an encounter with the risen Christ, we take a step on the journey of transformation. It might be another step on the voyage of discovery we started long ago. When we come with an open mind, we get to know God and ourselves better. Experiencing this richer side of coming to church means letting God speak, even if we don’t like what we hear, and, especially, if it means hearing God call us to change our ways. 

Many years ago, I heard Ken Medema sing, “Finding leads to losing, and losing lets you find. Living leads to dying, but life leaves death behind.” His spontaneous composition reflected life transformed in Christ. To me, it sounds like a living reimagining of Matthew 10.39, “Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” 

What are we seeking this Christmas? I pray that we all lose ourselves and find Christ, and in him, we will find life that leaves death behind. 

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