Somehow Christians have been able to suck out all of the joy out of simply having faith. That’s how it feels some days.
Recently, I heard about a young man who was a gifted drummer. He hadn’t spent much time at a church in recent years, but as of late he had begun going again. He wasn’t really ready to get involved, but he found himself unable to refuse the church when a favor was asked of him. So he gave the church’s usual drummer one free lesson. In order to do that, he had to repair the drums. After that, the church continued to ask him to step up, do a special here, or better yet, become the regualar drummer for them. This Christian Imposition is common among instrumentalists who attend church. It doesn’t take very much for Christians to suck the joy out of playing an instrument.
I was thinking about the ways that the Bible is taught that also result in the joy being sucked out of living a Christian life. Case in point: Modesty. Some teachers say that girls should ask their brothers and fathers if their particular outfit is sufficiently modest to walk around in public. Do you know how difficult it is to find those few outfits that make you feel amazing? It’s an exccedingly rare thing for me (and why it’s even rarer for me to dress up at all.) The thing is, modesty is subjective – from one guy to the next each of them view it differently. I’d never walk in public because there’s no outfit that exists that won’t be ‘too immodest’ for at least one guy out there. That’s why Christians tend to suck the joy out of wearing fashionable clothing.
I read about a girl who wanted to do an art ministry – she asked to use the church as a meeting space on week-days, but the church said no. They tend to suck the joy out of ministry by curtailing the list of pre-approved options and going out of the way to makes this difficult for people who want to un-approved ministries. Then the have the audacity to declare that everyone has a ministry – but it always just so happens to be a pre-approved ministry because God obviously wouldn’t lay it on somebody’s heart to use art as a ministry. Apparently it would be pure chaos to let the girl do an art ministry or a guy run a cooking class or something like that. So people get stuck in ministries that don’t match their gifts and that tends to suck the joy out of being in or having a ministry.
All of this, I think, owes it’s origin in how the church takes an institutional approach in it’s daily operation. When everyone is one the same page, there’s really not a lot of room for free-thinkers or people who refuse to take a leaf out of their book on how things ought to be done. All the churches I’ve been to in the last several years had similar things going on: “men’s group” “women’s group” “youth group”; they were usually done the same way. These churches are firmly planted in being safe, controlled, and as a result, a little less joyful than churches that aren’t afraid to take risks or try something different and new. I just wish I knew how to bring back the joy in being a Christian – because the longer I’m in these churches, the more difficult it is for me to find it.