“What would you recommend as a woman’s Bible Study activity?”
“Bring in a guy who can teach us how to do our own oil changes.”
“I’m asking seriously.”
“I’m telling you seriously.”
She was in complete disbelief. So I kept going.
“How many girls do you know that know how to change their own oil? I’m serious! Why not teach a life skill in Bible Study? I mean if you’re going to nurture their spirits why not teach them other practical life stuff? What young lady our age doesn’t want to save money? ” What young lady our age doesn’t want to deal with the hassle of having to ask some strange man to work on our vehicle and have to have a forced interaction? I held back that thought, but knew it was also a valid point.
She still looked hesitant to accept my suggestion, but spoke affirming like it was a good idea. It was a good idea. Just not what she was expecting. So I gave her the cliche options too. Womens retreats and group camping. Water parks. Seminars and talks. The typical churchy stuff that everyone wants to be part of because they involve fun and not work.
Part of me dislikes that about Bible Studies. They want to make it fun and not work. Reality check: spiritual connections and transformations are work. Hard work. If they aren’t you’re not doing it right. So why are contemporary churches trying to make things so entertaining and easy and fun? Why not teach a life skill? Why not volunteer at a soup kitchen? Why all the cooking classes, wine and painting events, concerts, and coffee clutches? Why not an actual life changing experience instead of just a spiritual high?
Give me something to learn! Give me a challenge to overcome! Stimulate my mind more than just my emotions! I want to learn scripture and talk life…then actually DO life. Life is full of hard stuff and challenges and experiences that are good to have without having to be entertaining. Why are we just glossing over stuff with events that, while good and well intentioned, are still just forms of Christian entertainment? Why are we entertaining women and not empowering women to learn how to live in harmony and independently?
It’s no wonder I find more empowerment and inspiration from a TEDtalk than I do from a church sermon. It actually teaches me something. It gives me life skills that are relevant to real life. It empowers me as a woman to be a better woman. It doesn’t stem from a culture of women bashing. It doesn’t have the stigma of a dysfunctional patriarchal hierarchy that is a very human and broken system. It is a community. A community of great minds and ideas. Ones that seek to teach you something worth knowing and is actively changing our thoughts and our world.
What is church doing?
I’ll tell you what I see. I see a lot of people sitting in pews saying that they love God, love each other, and are willing to throw money into a basket…but don’t say hello to each other. Don’t take time to see one another outside of church. Who don’t even look to bring others inward and invite new perspectives and changes into their community. Of course this is just what I see. It doesn’t include what I don’t see, which might be just as much of a problem. Because if I’m not seeing it, does it mean others aren’t seeing it either? And if others aren’t seeing it, how do they know what a renewed life looks like? How church is inclusive? How we aren’t just a Good-Old-Boys club?
Even if you’re a part of the “Body of Christ” as the Church calls its self, your idea or contribution still has to be accepted by the powers that be. I’m sorry did I say powers? I meant politics that be. Because somehow it comes across that a bunch of humans decided the “Body of Christ” is supposed to look like a white suburban family man who wears skinny jeans and flannel button up shirts. He drinks over priced coffee and somehow, with a beard that big (and magnificent as all hipster beards are) still manages to be a clean cut Steve Jobs kind of CEO that makes six figures and loves throwing big checks in a basket on Sunday.
They don’t see the “Body of Christ” the carpenter who probably hit his thumb with a hammer until his nail got bloodied and ripped off . They don’t see the “Body of Christ” homeless man who sits on street corners talking to other homeless people about Christ. They don’t see the “Body of Christ” as the mom mourning her son who shot a police officer and was killed in the altercation, and is being harassed by law enforcement because of the actions of her son and not her own. They don’t see the “Body of Christ” can get cancer and is dissected until there is nothing more to do, and then dies anyway. They don’t know the “Body of Chist” abuse victim who’s trying to overcome having a mortal father who beats the living tar out of him and his mom and then sings in the choir on Sunday. They don’t want to even talk about “The Body of Christ” gender confused or closeted homosexual. Though I’m sure by now they’re aware of these and more, they just don’t want to think about it. They don’t want to admit that “The Body of Christ” looks like it did on the Via Delerosa…broken, bloody, and stumbling while carrying a cross.
Too many people have this image of “The Body of Christ” as whole and unblemished, and looking like them because if Jesus is relatable he must be “like me”. Jesus wasn’t one of those “Church people” who look like nuns or wear dresses, suits, and ties to church all the time. They aren’t realizing Jesus spent his last years homeless, in deep spiritual and emotional pain and trauma, and working very hard for his deciples, God, and ultimately the whole world.
The Body of Christ isn’t a hipster Jesus. It isn’t just a bunch of Christian entertainers. It doesn’t even look like Jesus resurrected. It looks like a broken body on the cross that is getting ready to die. And I’m here wondering if that death will be “to self” or if it’s much more permanent than that.