By Cailey Morgan
My husband and I just bought a home. It’s what many would refer to as a “fixer-upper.” But we’re 3 back-breaking weeks and 750 kilograms of demolition waste into the overhaul of our kitchen and living area, and we’re starting to see the light.
No longer a brass-embellished shrine to 1981, our dining room is now a dusty plywood box furnished with a ladder and a pile of old lightbulbs. That’s what I call potential!
I’d like to think that we bought our place because we saw the opportunity to offer hospitality and love our community. But somewhere amidst the paint samples, Rona trips and appliance deliveries, this whole renovation project became about us again. Our measuring stick became the “Wow” factor, and we very quickly lost sight of why we had purchased the property to begin with.
We started deciding what we need based on whether it would impress people instead of whether we can use it to bless people.
And it made me think of how we sometimes behave as God’s people. Consider Peter’s exhortation in his letter to the Christian exiles:
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:3-4).
Now, I know Peter was talking to literal wives here, and I’m applying it more broadly to God’s Bride, us. But the issue is the same: humans like having the attention. We strive for recognition from others in ways that distract from the only Person truly worthy of praise.
So how do we take Peter’s advice seriously? When it comes to my renovation dilemma, it’s reasonably easy. We can choose simple furnishings that make people feel at home rather than envious. The people next door don’t know us yet, so we have the perfect opportunity to introduce ourselves, and the space to grow our reputation as hospitable, loving, gentle-spirited neighbours. But what about as the Church?
I’m as guilty as the next person of accepting and proliferating a Christian culture that thinks worship necessitates a drum kit and evangelism means a fancy website with sermons on podcast. Is that a stigma we can solve with a coat of paint?
Everything we do and build and say as God’s people needs to be a funnel directing eyes towards Christ. We’ll never be hip enough and our buildings and Twitter follower lists will never be impressive enough to draw people to God. Jesus’ life in us is the most glorious thing about us, so we need to have the humility to get out of the way and let Him do the shining.
Maybe I should stop mixing metaphors here, but what fancy backsplash in your congregation is distracting from worship? What trophy shelf in my church makes too much of our accomplishments rather than God’s goodness? What colour-coordinated curtains block the view of the broken people outside?
Isaiah says that “as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you (Isaiah 62:5). I long for us to be that Bride—the one Christ is proud to come home to. How do we get there? Please share your thoughts below.