Little “Christian” Boxes

Box

Image Credit: Gisela Giardino

Labels are ridiculous things.

They push up the price and they make clothes more difficult to iron.

They also stop people from thinking for themselves.

I have been thinking a lot recently about the “ideal Church”. What would it look like? Who would be its members?
There appears to be a paradox in Christianity at first glance. We are told that our faith makes us fully who we are, yet often individual expression is frowned upon.It happens on all fronts, whether you are “liberal” or “conservative” or “whatever”.

Take a label like “Worship Music” – As Christians, we tend to accept that it is what it is and there is a certain sound to it and a certain way to play it. Who said that that was the case? Who decreed that henceforth all Christian songs shall be of the progression G,Em,C2,D ?
Who decreed that we shall repeat the chorus twenty times with more and more fervour each time?
Who said there should be a lull midway through where the “worship leader” can interject an emotive prayer?
Why should I like that kind of music? Why should I? Because I am Christian???

This ethos extends to bigger issues; That there are certain ways to act about particular topics.
Any choice to act contrary to the “done way” is seen as a rejection of the actual teaching.

“Hey come and stand on the corner with our anti-rhubarb pie pickets!”
“Erm….. I…”
“You are anti-rhubarb pie aren’t you?”
“Well… yeah…”
“Great! Come along!”

If I don’t want to picket rhubarb pie, does that exclude me from the club? Am I somehow less committed? Who decided that picketing on the corner was the best approach anyway? Sure, someone did, somewhere down the line but since then no one else has bothered questioning the status quo. “It’s just how it’s done.”

Protest Picket Pie

Image Credit: Kheel Center (modified)

Okay, I know I am generalising and exaggerating. But I am doing so for effect.

The question is, what does a Christian look like? Hopefully, themselves.

We don’t sign away our personalities at our baptism. Sure, we put on Christ, we change our lives and our priorities, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be who we are. I believe that at our cores, we are good, we are made in the image and likeness of God. After we were created, God saw that all creation was very good. I feel quite convicted that our belief in God should draw out our uniqueness, draw out who we were created to be. It should not conform us to a box. There is no Christian box.

My friend pointed something out to me recently which took me by surprise. I was essentially telling him everything I have just written above and he responded, “I don’t want my Church to conform to me. It should challenge me.”

It was that comment that prompted me to write this post. He is of course, spot on.
At the crux of this debate is, what is the purpose of Church? To bring together believers? To praise and glorify God? To have communion with God?
Perhaps there is a clue in the final words of the Mass. “The Mass has ended, go forth to love and to serve the Lord.” To which we respond, “Thanks be to God!”

My challenge is to stop being so focused on the inward functioning’s and dynamic of the Church and to flipping get out into the field and make a difference in other people’s lives.
My prayer is that we, I, may let go of my preconceptions of how a Christian should be and rather let my heart be led by love.

Perhaps the inverse argument is true… Perhaps when I can embrace all variations of the Christian expression, rather than expect Church to embrace me, perhaps then we have the beginnings of a truly Catholic Church.

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2 thoughts on “Little “Christian” Boxes

  1. I love this post! Especially the part about Christian music. I hate labels and I hate how people make other people think they have to be in a certain way and like certain things.
    I’m a Christian, and I think the typical Christian music is boring. I listen to country, bluegrass and oldtime music, and actually can’t think of any other music style that has a more Christian profile. You know, every other bluegrass song is a Christian song. But, these music styles are not particularly “accepted” by other Christians. Because they also sing about love and other things.
    I’ve stopped caring about it, and stopped spending time with people who are intolerant about these things. I once was involved in a church where everybody had to be the same, like the same things, believe the same things, etc. I was really hurt there, and after leaving the church I had to learn to be myself and believe in the God I had come to know some years before, not in the harsh and loveless God they preached in the church.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My sister once said to me that she believes music proves we have soul. I agree with her completely. I can find God in all sorts of music, sometimes in one lyric that was meant to be about something else entirely! The notion that praising God should be limited to one variety of music is ludicrous, and so is the idea that Christian music needs to directly reference God. A classical piece of music can sing the splendour of The Creator better than any words a lyricist could dream up. The notes themselves are part of the fabric of creation! I think churches can fall into the trap of thinking that trying “different” music is somehow straying from “orthodoxy”. I personally don’t think God is too bothered by the kind of music we use to praise Him but rather, whether our hearts open in the process.

      Thanks for reading, Susanne!

      Like

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