“I like your Christ but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” – Mahatma Gandhi
I just listened to someone explain how Trump was living out the Beatitudes and representing Christ on earth. Before that, I watched some Christians eat grass and a pastor say broadcasting was not a real job. Before that, a pastor slapped a ‘witch’ and condemned her to hell before thousands of cheering people. Before that, a Woman of God called housewives that could not borrow their husbands a million naira ‘colossal disgrace’. Before that, I saw some people lie near graves to absorb the anointing of those buried there. The summary? I have seen and heard many things in my lifetime.
While all those aforementioned things were happening, some well-meaning people were telling me they couldn’t reconcile my personality to my faith. They said something like: “I can’t believe you are part of those Christian people”. Someone even said “You’re too smart to be a Christian”.
Woah, woah, excuse me (waves frantically), this religion is not for the dumb. Come on! We have ancestors like Dostoyevsky and Lewis and Augustine. It’s a really chill faith that has gotten a lot of negative PR because human beings have to bastardize everything good. E.g. leggings. Because of these bastardizations, I always have something to prove. In fact, I no longer know what to do with my face in church. Someone will just hold mic and say the reason we have been asked to stay at home in a pandemic is because the government does not want us to go to church.
PS: I don’t think only Christians believe these things but who else is raising prayer points out of it?
These days, when I go to church, I go out of obligation. The sermons and discussions are honestly not worth the trip. I sit and will the clock to move faster but the clock doesn’t like angry girls. The service starts with a cacophony of sounds from flustered, sweaty women in billowing skirts. After, people rush to the podium to give exaggerated testimonies packed with pride and a lot of theatrics. Then, the pastor comes and for the next thirty minutes, I am repeating things to my neigbour. I am shaking my neighbor. I am shouting that some things are not my portion. I am covering myself with the blood of Jesus. I am decreeing good things upon my family. Next, he reads scripture. And ye shall love the Lord… stop there. Stop there. What did it say? Ye shall love the lord! Tell your neighbor “you must love the Lord”. Now, pray. Lord, help me to love you. Pray. Pray. Pray. At the end of the prayer session, we collect first Sunday offering, love offering, thanksgiving offering, prophetic offering, breakthrough offering, seed offering, etc. etc. They announce all the many meetings that other people dare to be a part of and we say grace and finally, the clock moves.
Many people are comfortable with that routine but I am not. I am tired of enemies from my father’s house and church planting projects in a city with too many churches already. I need intellectual stimulation. I need to forge real connections. I need to be part of something important and thriving. I need to go to a church full of people like me. Not because I think people like me are better human beings but because people like me are unwilling to settle for just anything. We will at least call out on all the crappiness. We will not be guilt tripped into attending church for the sake of church.
So, can only me be a church? Can I do without church? Can I just form a small study and accountability group with only people I like and can endure? (I’ll transfer my tithes and offerings!)
The alternative would be a new Christian faction for us church-tired people but a new Christian faction is really not the answer. We already have thousands of Christian factions. What then is the answer? A thinking church? A praying church? A church where the pastor is not infallible? A church willing to have uncomfortable conversations? I don’t think so. I believe we will never have a perfect church in this world. This information basically came with the package. Jesus came for flawed people, he left the church in the hands of flawed people. He said “you did not choose me but I choose you”. He saw Peter misbehave but he still gave him his precious church. So, we might as well get used to it. But..but…I’d like us to try, not for perfection but for better. I don’t want a single struggling Nigerian soul to clap and proceed to give more offerings when a pastor announces that the parish is now number 7 in tithes and offerings!
I just wish we’d try.
We shall continue this conversation another day but right now, I leave you with a question asked by Phillip Yancey, my new crush.
Finally, the problem of the church is no different than the problem of one solitary Christian. How can an unholy assortment of men and women be the body of Christ? I answer with a different question: How can one sinful man, myself, be accepted as a child of God?