I have been listening to T. D. Jakes series. ‘At the Crossroads.’ In this series, he talks about the (and I quote) ‘the Dumb Ass at the crossroads.’ He is referencing the story in the New Testament about Christ telling his disciples to go to a certain place, and loose the ass in preparation for him to ride into Jerusalem on what is now known as Palm Sunday.
I must confess, that I do not usually hear the term ‘dumb ass’ in church. However, that prompted me to continue to ponder the question that has been uppermost in my mind of late: Is the church relevant in today’s society?
By relevant, I mean is the church (the people, not the building) meeting the needs of the culture? I have the opportunity to talk to many people in my work. I wear several hats: educator, naturopath, minister. These hats are in no particular order. They are interchangeable as the need presents itself. If the need is for an educator, and I put on my ministry hat, that may or may not be appropriate. If ministry is needed and I am wearing my clinical hat, then the need will probably go unmet and both parties are frustrated and no better off.
Which brings be back to the question: Is the church relevant for today? In the spirit of full disclosure, I confess that I like church. I was raised in church, but church has changed. When I was young, women did not wear slacks outside the home. We were not allowed to wear then to school (yes, public school) unless the weather was 32 degrees or lower, AND we had to wear a tunic type of shirt which came to mid-thigh. We certainly did not wear slacks to church. Today, it is not unusual for women to come to church (even in the holiness varieties) in slacks, shorts, torn jeans, strapless dresses, and other fashions which would have been unheard of in years past. I am happy to say that most churches have accepted this dress code change, and these women are not labeled ‘hussies’ or something similar. I use this word because I myself was thusly labeled when I was in my early twenties when I went into a holiness church with flaming red nails and lips; platinum blond hair; and God forbid, earrings.
Many of the people I talk to are young people I talk to today do not feel that they are accepted, and do not trust that the church is able to relate to them or meet any of their needs. In talking to a young man in his late twenties last week concerning God’s plan for his life, I was told: “I will never be the kind of man who will never take a beer; I will never be the kind of man who will never drop the F-bomb. I don’t measure up.” Really? Church is about performance? In the eyes of those we label Generation X and the Millennials, religion is about regulations and not relationship.
Hence the ‘dumb ass’ comment. One can have any number of conversations and someone will declare that he had a ‘dumb ass moment’ was a ‘dumb ass for making that decision’ ….. We don’t bat an eye when this happens in real life but when it happens in the confines of the church then we are offended. How is that relevant? In fact, I was talking with a family member today, and when asked if I was on the way to the clinic, I responded I was working on my blog concerning church relevance and being a dumb ass. You could hear the gasp…. The conversation continued like this:
Him: Dumb ass as in “I am a dumb ass?”
Him: Well, I am cool with that language, but what about all your religious people who read the blog?
Me: That’s my point. The church must be relevant.
Him: Right on!
The conversation continued, and as we said good-bye, he said: Go back to work on your dumb ass blog. We both laughed.
Jesus is relevant. He sees us in our dumb ass moments. He sees us when we are at the cross roads, we are bound up, we are not living up to our potential. We are stuck. He offers His assistance to loose us, and help us move forward. He wants a relationship with us. He is not offering us a rule book, nor is he counting the offenses against us. In fact, He came to wipe out the offenses against us.
As the church (the people, not the building) we should be doing the same. We should be relevant. We should be reaching out with answers, not ticking off violations in the rule book.
What do you think? Has the church been relevant to you in your dumb ass moments?
Until next time,