LET LOVE BE SINCERE

LET LOVE BE SINCERE

Saturday, September 29, 2012

That Church Doesn't Even Have a Cross...

...was a comment made on a facebook status I put up about attending a mom-to-mom sale at a mega church and feeling kind of jealous. I want to explain my jealousy, my faith and my saddness at the mega church in this blog.  But first a few PSAs

I know some of my blog reading friends might belong to mega churches.  I really don't want you to feel judged or put down because of your faith expression. I am going to compliment your churches muchly, but I am also going to call into question a certain aspect of this phenomenon and frankly, that might offend you, so you might not want to read.

I am going to make some sweeping generalizations in this blog.  That is okay.  I know there are exceptions. I know I am not speaking about 100% of the time or 100% of mega churches.

Okay, so the husband and I went to a mega church for a mom to mom sale.  Aaron warned me going in that I was going to be BLOWN away and BLOWN away I was. First, the parking lot.  OFF THE HOOK.  Pretty sure they have a VALET parking area!  When you walk in the lobby you are greeted with huge banners, and tons of flat screen televisions show you announcements about the church.  As we followed signs to where the sale was, we saw a STORE, a COFFEE SHOP, and TONS of flat screen televisions.  When I used the restroom, there was a sign that said, 'If we are not meeting a standard of excellence, please let us know'.  In the room with the sale, there were the huge projector screens, hip Christian music playing, everything was sleek/everything was modern.  We went into the big ticket room and there were fake trees/and what appeared to be a 'downtown strip' area with different store fronts that I am assuming is their daycare?  This place was off.the.hook. I could not believe that people worship there.  It was crazy because everyone was so lovely and nice and welcoming.  What a freaking amazing community!  We left and Aaron and I kept laughing saying, 'um we are kind of jealous'.  Then reminding ourselves that we get to consume the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity and we feel pretty good about that.

Now, here is where I am going to 'tangent' but I want you to stay with me.  We went to a marriage talk tonight and they talked about the high divorce rate.  The speaker referenced that the MAJORITY of marriages end at the 5 year mark. I know the statistics, but it is still hard to hear.  He then went on to list 5 things that you must do to have a successful marriage.  And man, those things that he listed...they are FREAKING hard.  They are things like forgiveness, communication, caring for your spouse the way your spouse WANTS to be cared for.  And, one of the points he made was that to love, is to suffer.  And DUDE.  Something clicked.

NO WONDER marriages are hurting right now.  We are a culture that cannot stand to sit with suffering.  We do everything to avoid it.  Headache? pill.  Heartache?  pill.  Attraction to things that aren't good for you but feel good?  Just go for it. etc.. etc... etc... (oh, yea-h I just went there with the three ETCs).  How can we possibly stay in marriages that are difficult for us when EVERYTHING in our culture tells us to avoid suffering at all costs.  Almost everything in our culture celebrates, in a sneaky kind of way, a certain type of selfishness.  To the point where being selfless has become foreign ...not easily understood by the natives.  NO WONDER MARRIAGES CAN'T LAST THROUGH THAT.  And guess what friends?  I would love to tell you that I am not affected by this, but I TOTALLY am. I HATE suffering.  Always have.  No wonder marriage is a crud-ton harder than I thought it would be- it demands an acceptance of suffering and I DON'T DO SUFFERING.

And, that is when it hit me.  No wonder I freaking wanted to join this mega church.  THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE A CROSS!!!

You know, about a half a year ago Oprah had on Joel Osteen.  We recorded it because the husband wanted to watch it.  I have never cared for the man's style of preaching.  Even greater, I have never cared for his message.  As we watched him, I actually had to remove myself from the room.  Would you like to know why?  It was because he was LYING.  He was/is LYING to tens of thousands of people who believe HIS view of who Christ is.  And that person IS.NOT. Christ.  Now, I know, I know, I am speaking in really big OFFENSIVE terms...and maybe I will feel bad in the light of day.  But right now, I am going to call it like I see it and the person that Mr. Osteen is selling to HIS worshipers (note- it is very important that I say HIS worshipers) IS.NOT.CHRIST.

Christ is a cross.  Christ is the face of suffering.  Christ said the road would be narrow.  Christ said that he would be DESTROYED before he rose.  Christ promised that to be his follower, we would have to be willing to carry that same cross.  Christ lost his mind in the temple because he couldn't believe that his FATHER's HOUSE was being turned into a den of trading.  CHRIST is who I choose to follow and in this world, and, often, CHRIST is not attractive.

But, do you know what is attractive?  Cupholders!  Christian Rock Music.  Messages that tell you the more you believ,e the more cash-flow will come your way.  BATHROOMS THAT ARE PRISTINE AND PROMISE TO STAY THAT WAY.  DUDE- that is attractive.  And tonight, it is making me a little sad.  It is making me a little sad because this message of attractive Christianity, a Christianity that is NOT built on what is true about the Christian walk,  is STEALING my teens.

In this modern day of distraction, feel-good philosophies, instant gratification...it is close to impossible for my teens to walk up the communion line, receive the BODY AND BLOOD of Christ (the BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST BECAUSE HE TOLD US IT WAS THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST)  and be amazed.  Instead, they are looking to go elsewhere.  Where they are more entertained. More engaged.  There are more 'cool' groups for them to join and better music.  The body and blood of CHRIST!  IS BORING.  That is where we are at.

So, I guess, in closing, to wrap this string of thoughts together.  If your church does not have a cross, a big one, an obvious one some where visible...you should be taking a second to wonder who, or more importantly WHAT you are worshiping.

Sorry if this hurt your feelings.
the.end.

21 comments:

  1. My favorite statue...buddy Jesus. dude! That guy is cool!

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  2. My favorite statue...buddy Jesus. dude! That guy is cool!

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  3. A-freaking-men. That takes guts to proclaim.

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  4. I love this post and TOTALLY know what you are saying! It's actually funny because James and I sometimes go to a Catholic church near us (not going to say which one) that we really don't like going to if we can at all help it because of the aesthetics of the building. One day during Mass an elderly lady whispered to her friend "there's not even a crucifix in here" the she said "that is so wrong!" She's right too! The only crucifix in the place is the one that is processed in...and it is so tiny that from far away you can't even see the Christ on the cross! It is so, so sad :(

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  5. OH.MY.GOSH
    What a fantastic post - I mean: FLIPPIN-FANTASTIC! I did a talk on suffering - not what I had wanted to do, but something God made sure I had to do: and I needed to hear what He had me tell others, probably more than the others to whom I was speaking!
    Suffering is not what we want to do, but it is something we are all going to do at one time or another - I guess it all comes down to how we deal with the suffering. We have a great example in Christ.
    God bless you -
    Karen
    and the new picture is flippin-fantastic, too! You look like a reproduction of the icon of Mary behind you - beautiful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! That is a VERY kind thing to say!

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  6. Bingo bango! Perfect, per usual. And, more specifically, I need a church with not only a cross, but it needs a crucifix. What is Christ without suffering, like you said?

    I brought a friend to our church today, and she asked me how I liked it. I had to be honest. We go to it because it is the only one near us. And we go to it because going to church is for praising God, not for my own entertainment. But, there is NO CRUCIFIX. At least not one that I have seen. Gr.

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    1. Amen! I, btw, will finally be responding to you tomorrow whilst at work! :)

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  7. Great post Mary! And with all that suffering we do, if a Catholic church wanted to add a few "fun" things...hey, I am not opposed! Frankly, I would love a better cry room then crowded in the small entryway. Lots of suffering there.

    Brian was just saying how sometimes with EWTN and Ave Maria Radio they just don't appeal to all walks of life, especially the young whom, like you said, are leaving in droves. For example, why don't they play Lecrae or Disciple during the day or better yet get teens input on what they want to see, what would keep them plugged in. The teens' cross right now seems to be the exclusion of their preferences. Keep up the hard work... your teens love you!

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    1. Completely agree. I think there is a happy medium somewhere. We miss you. Talks of a trip to DC in the spring are happening! I'll keep you posted!

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  8. Wow. This is awesome, Mary. I think this is probably my favoritest post of yours ever.

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  9. I know what you are saying. I hear my friends talk about the awesome coffee bar and eating during the "sermon", and I internally wonder, "But where is the focus?" I love a feel-good message as much as any harried person, but the ritual and the focus of the mass is soothing as a warm shower after a day of caring for sick people or cleaning the house. To be in a space where even if you get distracted you eyes are seeing edifying images is good for the soul. So, I agree about the cross, but it's more than that, it's the ritual of the mass and the worship space as a place to encounter God that is so necessary.

    I could go on a riff about eating in mass too because of the meal and how if you don't feed your kids they are so hungry for the Eucharist by the time they are in second grade it's like giving a drink to a person in the dessert. In a word, I LURVED this post!!

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  11. Our pastor asked everyone in the congregation to bring in their favorite crosses to hang in our sanctuary. The walls were covered with all sorts of crosses, big and small; wood and ceramic; some artsy and some plain. They stayed up on the walls for a whole year. It was so cool to look around and see all those crosses and think about the gift of love through suffering that they represent. We also have a huge cross right over the Communion table that gets draped in symbolic decorations depending on the church season.
    I'll take worshipping with the small congregation at my church over getting lost in a megachurch any day!

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  13. Amen!! just arrived at the same conclusion. I am thrilled to see I am not the only one

    ReplyDelete
  14. * we are commanded to take up our cross.Matthew 10:38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Mark 8:34 [ The Way of the Cross ] Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.1 Corinthians 1:17-19Amplified Bible (AMP)Luke 14:27New International Version (NIV)
    27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
    * The cross is a symbol of our victory over sin.Colossians 2:13-15New International Version (NIV)
    13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
    * Our adversary hates the cross[b]Philippians 3:17-19New International Version (NIV)
    17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
    17 For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be [a]made ineffective [deprived of its saving power].
    * The cross is foolishness to those destined for hell
    The Wisdom of God
    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God. 19 For it is written and forever remains written,
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise [the philosophy of the philosophers],
    And the cleverness of the clever [who do not know Me] I will nullify.”

    ReplyDelete
  15. * we are commanded to take up our cross.Matthew 10:38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Mark 8:34 [ The Way of the Cross ] Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
    In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
    Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.1 Corinthians 1:17-19Amplified Bible (AMP)Luke 14:27New International Version (NIV)
    27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
    * The cross is a symbol of our victory over sin.Colossians 2:13-15New International Version (NIV)
    13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you[a] alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
    * Our adversary hates the cross[b]Philippians 3:17-19New International Version (NIV)
    17 Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.
    17 For Christ did not send me [as an apostle] to baptize, but [commissioned and empowered me] to preach the good news [of salvation]—not with clever and eloquent speech [as an orator], so that the cross of Christ would not be [a]made ineffective [deprived of its saving power].
    * The cross is foolishness to those destined for hell
    The Wisdom of God
    18 For the message of the cross is foolishness [absurd and illogical] to those who are perishing and spiritually dead [because they reject it], but to us who are being saved [by God’s grace] it is [the manifestation of] the power of God. 19 For it is written and forever remains written,
    “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise [the philosophy of the philosophers],
    And the cleverness of the clever [who do not know Me] I will nullify.”

    ReplyDelete
  16. Amen!! just arrived at the same conclusion. I am thrilled to see I am not the only one

    ReplyDelete
  17. Some of my siblings like Joel Olsteen and recommended him to me. I was immediately put off by the fact that there was no cross to be seen anywhere. Still, I watched the entire video. He's not for me. Is he really doing God's work? I don't know, maybe. That's not for me to judge.

    What I am about to say next is not meant to be mean or disrespectful to any one but I feel/believe that crucifixes are wrong. The Ten Commandments "Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image." In my interpretation, that would include the body of Jesus on a cross. For me, an empty cross is better, because it shows he left this place and ascended into Heaven. I'm not saying I'm right and others are wrong. In the end, wearing a crucifix or cross won't get you into Heaven. There is just one way and is by accepting Jesus Christ into your heart as your Savior,Lord and Master.

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