“How are you?”    “Fine.”

“How’s the kids?”    “They are good.”

“How’s the job treating you?”   “You know how it goes……”

“How about them Denver Broncos?   Isn’t that Peyton something?”

“Got to love fall weather in Michigan, don’t you?”

“Isn’t it just a beautiful Sunday morning?”

Now let me ask you a question……

“If you showed up at church on crutches on a Sunday morning, do you think that people would ask you those same questions?”

“If you showed up at church on a Sunday morning wearing a head scarf because your hair fell out from chemotherapy, do you think that people would ask you the same questions?   In the same way?”

Then why do we assume that just because you can’t see a pain, it doesn’t exist?

Just because you can’t see that someone lost their job doesn’t mean that they aren’t struggling with all of the questions and issues that unemployment can bring.

Just because you look “fine” doesn’t mean that you haven’t been plagued by debilitating depression and suicidal thoughts throughout the week.

Just because you look “fine” doesn’t mean that your daughter didn’t run away with someone she met on the internet.

Just because you look “fine” doesn’t mean that your children are fine and aren’t carrying significant emotional baggage that weighs the entire family down.

Why does the church refuse to look beyond skin deep?  

Why does the church refuse to get involved with anything that can’t be fixed by a hot meal or a ride to the doctors?

Because it’s messy.

Because it hurts.

Because looking beyond skin deep involves acknowledging our own hurts and the way those hurts have left scars.

Because looking beyond skin deep requires us to sit with the pain that someone else has.    That makes us uncomfortable.   We aren’t used to that.    It doesn’t fit with the modern day interpretation of Romans 8:28 (Everything is always good when you love God).

And guess what – that skin deep outlook, that lack of seeing the deep, the emotional, the painful, it hurts.

It makes pain worse.

It drives away people from the church.

It keeps people from wanting to be involved with the church.

It hurts the kingdom.

So what?  (See prior post)   What does the church need to do?

A couple of suggestions:

  • Stop assuming that if everything looks good on top, it is.
  • When you ask someone, “So, how are you?”  Don’t accept the pat answer, “Fine.”    Instead, asking, “No really, how are you?”   And mean it.
  • Make it more obvious that the church is okay with talking about and dealing with the messy of life.    Very few churches are willing to.

Jesus had dinner with IRS agents and prostitutes, I think it’s okay for us to admit to pain and to walk alongside people who are in pain.k

It’s what Jesus would do.

Tom