On the way to church yesterday the radio DJ spoke about how pride sometimes keeps her from experiencing what church is really about.
She wakes up in the morning focused on what she’s going to wear. She focuses on how her hair looks and what her makeup looks like. During the Worship Service she worries if she looks like she’s worshiping the “right way”. There are times she leaves church realizing she missed the opportunity to experience Christ because she was focused on worrying what the world would think about her instead of focused on what Christ was telling her.
It was a moment of conviction for me. I had changed clothes twice that morning, struggling to find something I felt comfortable in. I’d started doing my hair when my husband got the call he was needed at the church ASAP for a tech issue. As we headed to church he looked at me and said, “Did you remember to brush your hair?” I ran some fingers through it quickly and thought, “I hope PEOPLE don’t think I just rolled out of bed.”
The sermon Sunday morning was on point. The pastor spoke about how God finds us, no matter where we are at. It told of how sin caused Adam and Eve to feel the need to be clothed. It talked about how, like them, we feel the need to cover our sins through our actions.
There are several things people could have honed in on about the sermon. I focused on the leaves we put on to cover the things we are ashamed of, and how that separates us from Christ.
The Grow Class I attended last Wednesday night on living “The Gospel-Centered Life” talked about how we try to minimize the sin in our lives by faking, hiding, downplaying, blaming, defending, or exaggerating it.
I thought about the way Satan convinces us to feel like we need to “keep up appearances” and how he uses that every Sunday to either keep people from church or keep them distracted in church. We leave the “real me” at the door and hide the brokenness the church body was designed to heal through the love of Christ. We bounce between churches because we don’t want people to see the baggage we carry, and we find excuses for why the next church will be better than building the one we’re in now.
Later in the day, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. She told me they had been looking at different churches. They just didn’t feel they were being fed at their current church. I asked if they were involved in a Connect Group on Sunday mornings or a Grow Class on Wednesday nights. She told me they weren’t. I asked if she took notes during the sermons and reflected on them throughout the week. She told me “No.”
As our conversation went on, she told me how one church they had decided against switching to because they film the audience for their live stream, straight down to the verse open in their Bibles. She was too worried she would be caught on film on the wrong page and that would be on film forever, so they decided against going there.
She told me they don’t go to Connect Groups on Sunday mornings because she has to walk in late, and she doesn’t want people to judge her for not being able to get her family ready on time.
She went on to tell me she had temporarily put off looking at other churches because she had put on some weight, and she just didn’t have anything to wear right now that made her feel comfortable going to the other churches.
The good news is, she still goes to a Worship Service on Sunday morning at the church she’s gone to her entire adult life. But I think I figured out why even then, she doesn’t feel she is growing from the message.
When we are too worried about what other people think, we miss the opportunity to truly experience God. Our pride keeps us from sharing our mess and relating to other people. Our pride keeps us from sharing our testimony with others. And our pride keeps us from experiencing all we have to experience during church. And like my friend, I wonder how many people miss the message because they’re too worried about what the person three rows back thinks about them instead of the message God is sharing with them in church?
During our ReEngage class last night, one of the men shared how he used to go to church every Sunday and Wednesday looking for a message to grow from. He shared with his pastor how much he looked forward to the message because it carried him through until the pastor spoke again.
The pastor looked at him and said, “Do you own a Bible?”
The man replied, “Yes.”
The pastor told him, “You don’t need to wait for me for a message. You have all you need with you daily. Open it.”
Satan uses pride to distract us. God gave us all we need.
Satan makes us believe we need to maintain an image that means nothing to God in order to be accepted in a church full of broken people. We sit feeling so worried about our appearance, that we don’t hear God speaking to us. We think we need to go somewhere else to get the message God is giving us under the roof He sent us to originally.
My prayer this week is for all of those people, who like me, often let pride hold them back from growing in all they can be with Christ, that Christ would help remove the blinders and let the pride dissipate.
May we all remember the words of 1 Peter 3:3-4 which reminds us, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”