They say confession is good for the soul, so here goes.
I haven’t fully repented of my legalistic and judgmental mindset. Now, let me preface this by contextually defining the term repentance.
The Greek word from which we get the English repentance is quite different from our common understanding of the term. Even Webster’s Dictionary definition of repentance differs from the biblical definition of the term.
Metanoia (and its verb form metanoeo) is defined as a change of mind and carries with it the connotation of turning around and heading in the opposite direction you once were heading.
So when I say that I haven’t repented, I say that I haven’t completely changed.
This morning at church I saw a couple dressed extremely well. The man was dressed in a dark suit and wore a necktie, and his wife (I assume) was wearing what I would consider typical “Sunday best.”
And the first thought in my mind was, They’re going to experience some culture shock today.
A buzz-phrase often thrown around in churches is, “Come as you are, and leave different,” or some variation. (Sadly, most churches that carry that kind of phrase don’t actually live by their mantra, which is why my church avoids pithy sayings like that one.)
Churches like Liquid Church and Emergence hold very closely to that kind of ideal. Our goal is to allow the grace of God to permeate everything we do so that people feel comfortable enough to be authentic and express their inner selves outwardly.
And I didn’t allow for that. Instead, I assumed that this couple “missed the memo” and were showing up for church expecting what I perceived was “their kind of service” and that they would be shocked by the loud alterna-rock worship and the pastoral staff wearing ripped jeans and flip-flops (or, in Ryan’s case, some form of moccasins). I assumed they were going to look around the room and judge everyone for their overtly sinful lifestyles, and not once during my observation of this couple did I give them the benefit of the doubt.
What if they’re completely on board with our mission at Emergence? What if they simply feel more comfortable dressed like that because that’s just how they’ve always done church?
Or worse yet (for me), what if they were victims of the 1950s church “ideal” and had come to Emergence to check out the whole “Jesus thing,” but were fed the lie that you had to “dress up” for church?
And I have to repent of this mindset. I thought I’d changed. I thought I’d begun to allow grace to identify me. Instead, I’ve found myself to be the same judgmental pharisee I was five years ago. I’m just pointing my Bible guns at different targets.