Dysfunctional With God
At the moment, I am sitting alone with God. It is very early in the morning. The chickens are still on their roost. An armadillo roams seemingly aimlessly around the area scratching and digging for a grub or two. The cats are asleep and so is the dog. There is no one around to distract me, to call my name or want anything from me. The phone does not ring and I cannot hear the sound of a single car. The birds are still nestled in their nest and there is not a single peep. It’s just me and God… and I am not always comfortable with that.
Families who are dysfunctional have many things in common. But, from my experience, the most common is the need for some big commotion. If you are such a family or know of one, you will notice that every time there are moments of peace, the family is uncomfortable. Someone, without fail, will start something just to get the roar going again. Most of the time it is over the most stupid things you can imagine. The issue is never the issue. It is just the vehicle to get some motion and noise going. Dysfunctional people cannot deal with the silence and peacefulness. A child will throw a toy. A husband or a wife will make a wise crack about weight, or the food, or the house. It doesn’t matter. As soon as it comes out, immediate chaos explodes and the family joins in. Tempers flare, eyes cry and the race is on. And, in a weird way, everyone is happy.
Now, that statement, “Everyone is happy” is an illusion. Actually, everyone now can take their minds off the silence or the slowness of things and join in the distraction. It is more comfortable than having to reflect within ourselves. Moments of silence make us nervous, especially when we have to start seeing ourselves as we really are. Most of us do not like what we see and live in terror that others might get a glimpse of our inner self if we allow the distractions to suspend long enough. If you are one of these people, you are most likely already thinking or doing something that will draw you away from reading this. Maybe you feel the need to check what is on the stove or take the dog out. Perhaps you need to make an urgent phone call. It makes us uneasy to look within.
If families are like this, and many are, and, if the church is a family, is it possible that we, as a church family, can become dysfunctional as well? We clamor for the “meat of the Word” and then when it comes, it troubles us. We see the purity of God and His Holy nature, look in the mirror at ourselves and see something different, and are forced to do something. We have the option to change to meet Him or distract. And, to tell you the truth, we most often distract.
Distractions come in millions of forms. In a home, it could be a bounced ball in the living room. A wife could ask the husband to move over on the sofa instead of sprawling out like a bed sheet. A child could make a negative comment about his or her teacher. Someone could spill a glass of water. It really doesn’t matter if these things are accidental or intentional. Someone will seize the moment and tax the distraction for all it is worth. Not only that, but dysfunctional families spend a lot of time, as a distraction, talking about “Doing something about it.”
In the church family, by the very nature of that on which we feast, The Word of God, we are pushed, pulled, lead and almost forced to look at ourselves as we really are. The Word goes deep within us, and, like a sword driven into our chest and twisted from side to side, “divides the thoughts and intents of the heart.” James likens it to a mirror into which we look and see what is out of place or in need of change. When that happens, we often panic. Our dysfunction kicks in and we must divert. “I didn’t get a thing out of that this morning,” we say. “I am sick and tired of this church. We are not growing.” “I wish he would teach this or I wish he would teach that.” “The singing was really bad. I wish they would sing more of the older songs.” “Did you see what she had on? How on earth could anyone come to church dressed like that?” “What was that smell. Someone needs a bath.” “I hate it when they call on him to pray. He takes too long and always says the same thing.” “I saw so and so with their eyes open during the prayer.” (You have to wonder how one could keep their eyes closed and see that.) “I’m so tired of hearing about…” “I sure wish they would do something about that kid.” “I looked around and counted over fifty who were not there today.” “I wish he would not shout.” “He calls himself a preacher and did not quote a single verse of Scripture through the whole thing.” “Did you see those socks she had on?” “I didn’t see him put a dime in the collection plate.” “I hate this ole song book… and why don’t thy keep ’em on the chair instead of in the back on a book rack?”
You could sit and write a thousand comments and never reach the end. Do you know why? Because there is no end! None of these things are the issue. The issue of discontentment is from within and when we have to look inside there it frightens us and makes us sick. So, we conclude that the church is going to the dogs and if we don’t do something it will die. We’ve got to do something. What? I don’t know, but something. Really?
Now, kick back a little bit and look at this thing. Is this your church? Did you build it? I’m not talking about the house in which we meet. Did you build the church? Did you die for it? Is it your blood that cleanses it? Are you the head of it? Did God put anyone in charge of it? What are you going to do to fix it? Do you really have that power? Do we really have that ability? Do we even know where to start? (Here are the answers in the very order of the questions. No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No!)
“Well, we’ve got to do something!” What exactly are we suppose to do? Are we wanting to implement something to placate our minds and distract us from the real issues? Or, are we so bold and brazen to believe that we can actually fix that over which we have no control. God did not put it in our hands. It is still in His. “Look at all the stuff the other congregations are doing. They are blowing and going and we are sitting here like a rock.” Really? Is it really about DOING or BEING? Could it be that we are wanting to LOOK busy so that it seems like we are doing something? Most likely, our “something” will just be white noise, just like in the living room of the family who cannot enjoy a peaceful moment.
God has the fix. “Let me in that church and I will help you.” But, it is going to take each one of us to the point of having to get face to face with God, and we are not going to like it. It is going to make us have to be still and know that He is God. We are going to have to get used to the quietness of spirit and aloneness with Him. We will have to quieten our surroundings and listen to Him for a change and it will require me to make some changes within myself, and I am not likely to like it… at first, anyway. We will have to face the fact that before He can come out of us, He must first come into us.
So, what would it take to fix it? You want evangelism? When God gets in He will come out. You want to assist the community? When God gets in He will come out. You want to see a difference in attendance? When God gets in He will come out. You want to be busy for God? When God gets in He will come out.
We have a choice to either create noise and take our minds off the real issue at hand or settle for the peace of God with an open heart that invites Him to do His work in us. He wants our heart, and when He gets it, our hands will move at His will, not ours.
Perhaps we should get up early in the morning or stay up late tonight when all the noise has quieted and there are no distractions and think about these things. You will likely do what I am doing right now. It’s running through my head. “Man, I’ve got a thousand things to do!” What I need the most is openness to God and the thousand things will take care of themselves.