4 months from today, we will be waiting, moment to moment, for our son to be born. I’ve already started to imagine what he will be like.
I imagine he will love hot sauce, like his dad.
I bet he’ll be a homebody like his mom.
I hope he can sleep through anything like his dad, and I hope he can sing like his mom.
Whoever he is, I hope our son loves The Church. But what will that mean for him?
What will the church teach him if he goes? And, what is it that Christ calls us to be in the world?
As I think about The Church this Holy week, these are the 4 things I hope the future church teaches my son:
1) Do not get swept away by duty, or expectations or the ‘shoulds’ of life, instead, when something speaks deeply to your heart, when something tugs at your soul- follow it, pursue it, and never look back.
When Christ went looking for his disciples, he didn’t look among the religious leaders or outwardly ‘religious’ people- those who were already praying in public or preaching in synagogues. Instead, he went looking for people who still had the ability to dream. He went to the sea shore at dawn, and he encountered young men- probably in their teens or twenties- and he said: ‘drop your nets and follow me.’
With that- these young dreamers dropped their fishing rods. They left behind their duties, their obligations, the jobs that their parents probably said they should do or that their parents expected them to do. Why? Because something deep within them cried out and spoke to their hearts.
I don’t think God wants a world full of people living by the word ‘should’ instead, God wants a world full of people that know how to listen to their hearts.
I believe God desires passionate dreamers. I hope the church teaches this to our son.
2) Allow yourself to be amazed.
Jesus called disciples who were willing to witness the mystery of God and be amazed. The disciples were not convinced that they knew all the answers. Instead, they followed Christ with a spirit of discovery and awe.
Christ cleansed lepers, he restored a girl to life and healed a woman who was bleeding for 12 years. And though his disciples wondered, questioned and examined what they saw- they remained open to the mystery of what God can do.
God wants us all to remain open- not convinced that we know all there is to know about God, but instead, ready to encounter God’s renewing spirit in the world.
I hope the church teaches my son to remain open-minded.
3) Invest in tenderness and service over dominance and power.
My son is coming in to a broken world. Women are abused by their husbands. Wars break out over territory and resources. Children are hungry. The poor are getting poorer, the rich are getting richer. The planet is slowly dying due to our abuse and negligence toward the environment. Churches all over the place are preaching the gospel of hate, not love…
It’s enough brokenness to make anyone outraged.
Young men are often the ones encouraged to foster aggression, dominance, power, and control in the world. They are encouraged to play with fake weapons and engage in violent video games. They are peer pressured to live dangerously, to appear to be strong, emotionless and sometimes violent.
But Christ models an alternative form of masculinity- a gentle, tender, compassionate approach to living and loving the world.
Followers of Christ are invited to show vulnerability and see the humanity of others- not erase it.
I hope the church teaches my son to be a gentle, compassionate, and grace-filled person.
And finally, most importantly, I hope the church teaches my son this:
4) Everyone you meet is made in the image of God
Every single living, breathing human being is made in the image of God. Everyone you can imagine is loved deeply by God.
And yet, so many churches try to teach their members that there are insiders and outsiders, sinful and saved, good and bad, accepted and reviled…
In Indiana, in the name of God, businesses are righteously excluding people based on their sexual orientation and this must break God’s heart.
I hope the future church teaches my son to love and affirm his neighbors- all of them: gay, straight, Muslim, Jewish, black, white, male, female, transgendered… and more. Every single one- made in the image of God just as they are.
I hope the church teaches my son to love deeply, without reservation. To respect, protect, and advocate for his neighbors who face persecution and exclusion: because this is what Jesus would do.