One of the reasons I wrote “Under The Microscope” relates to an ongoing personal struggle of mine. There is a type of frustration where one is able to genuinely engage in and actively serve his/her home church. Yet there is another kind of frustration that can turn toxic and negatively impact one’s service. Both frustrations are contingent on one’s perception or interpretation of progress/change or lack thereof. An argument can be made that one should silence any discomfort or frustration when it comes to serving his/her church. It has been argued that serving in itself should surpass all discomfort and/or frustration. This is the “tough it out” approach I held up until the middle of last year (2014). This approach while appearing appropriate can become problematic particularly when someone is serving in leadership capacities.
I can say for the past few months I have moved toward a particular frustration where I am no longer able to genuinely engage and actively participate in leadership capacities. This has led to an indefinite sabbatical that some believe is not necessary. The truth is I am frustrated with the personality of my home church. I have been frustrated for several years and it has been leading me to look introspectively into myself and my church. I don’t want to lead worship simply to fulfill a need for my church or because I do it well; particularly when I am conflicted and frustrated with the church. I believe the church deserves such respect. If I am not “all in”, I rather pass on my uniform to the next dedicated team member. Furthermore I don’t believe the work of the Lord should be taken this lightly.
This is my willingness to allow many to see me under the microscope. My embracing of transparency has drawn me to rely more on the strength and perfection of Christ than my own. I have been learning that I don’t have to exert all my energy on appearing or taking a form of strength and perfection. It is much easier and less cumbersome to let Christ be my strength and perfection. This past year I have learned that despite my individual efforts, I have not been able to abandon a performance oriented way of interpreting the gospel; particularly in the mist of those at my home church. I morph my personality to be one that shelters individual weaknesses and shortcomings. This leads me to look down on others that I perceive to be spiritually weak and lacking. It becomes imperative for me to look to part even if it is at the expense of self-deception. In the end I live with no actual realization of the gospel of love and grace. I see God’s love and acceptance as something that is earned through performance rather than freely given through the perfect work of his son. In addition, the power and splendor of the gospel is limited in my life.
One of the points that I attempted to make in “Under The Microscope” is that a church that is oblivious to the several factors that impact its perception and application of the gospel will have no desire to daily assess herself and submit problematic areas to her chief’s potter; namely Christ. The same applies to a church that is aware but doesn’t regularly acknowledge and submit herself and those influencing factors under Christ’s microscope. What I failed to argue is how such disposition vicariously perpetuates and inhabits her members. My plea is for more open conversation and acknowledgement of the influential factors that informs church’s interpretation and application of the gospel. The Haitian culture is typically known to be critical and punitive. Being a Christian does not escape you from such factors but rather allows you to openly acknowledge them and submit them to Christ and the gospel for rectification.
The beauty of the love of God is its ability to regularly and efficiently surface shortcomings in order for recipients to respond. One way I have respond to my performance oriented way is by daily acknowledging that God’s love is not something that I earn or perform for. I am learning to cherish God as a father that I can openly share my deepest shortcomings to in prayer. I use opportunities to acknowledge that I am frustrated with my home church but also remind myself that I am not too far different from her.