Sanitizing is exerting control that is motivated by fear and division. Whatever we sanitize begins to lose its bearings. Yesterday (see Jan 29th post), we saw what happens when we stop sanitizing an elementary playground. When kids are given freedom to choose their play, they become motivated and engaged, not only on the playground, but in the classroom.
Could this be true on the evangelical playground? If you have spent more than a few years in church, you have experienced some version of the gospel at play. Generally speaking, our work consists of jobs and families. Since church is optional, let's call it play.
The version of the gospel to which we have been exposed influences the way we treat people. Period. If our gospel (church experience) has been sanitized, it is motivated by fear and division, and we will begin to lose our bearings. We will bully people with a few rules that create a firewall of protection for ourselves, behind which we hide our brokenness.
I have wondered for years why homosexuality has carried a neon sign inside church culture. I know what the bible says about it, but we have to face the truth that the bible censors lack of love above everything else. Somewhere along the way, homosexuality became an easy target since the preponderance of evangelicals are probably hiding behind other brokenness. When we can sanitize the gospel into a few highlighted issues, we can exert control motivated by fear that I have to face my own brokenness. Division into sin camps--into which all of us can be assigned if that was God's purpose for church--means I don't have to be fully accountable before God for my loveless heart.
Sanitizing the gospel is why we look so hostile to onlookers. The truth is they are seeing our firewall of protection behind which we pretend we are better than whatever neon sign our church culture highlights.
It must be why God says we must come as little children to the truth of Jesus. The children on the Swanson Primary School playground (see Jan 29th post), left unsanitized, found relationship and adventure, making their workday more productive.
What if we could ever stop sanitizing our evangelical playground? We could be children at play, simply loving each other through the adventure that is life. God would take care of our wounds, not treating them as differences but as opportunities to come out from our hiding places and experience the joy of relationship with him and with others.
Love would win.
Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.