If there is one thing I’ve learned as a mother of a preschooler, it’s that once they get a train of thought in their head, it’s almost impossible to derail it.
Preschooler: “Where are you going?”
Mom, hurriedly packing purse. “To run errands.”
Preschooler, eyebrows raised: “To see Erin?” (her friend from school)
Mom, snorting. “No, errands. I’m actually going to the church too.”
Preschooler, face scrunched. “To Erin’s church?”
Mom, frustrated. “I’m not having anything to do with Erin!”
Preschooler, frowning and offended. “You don’t like Erin?!!”
And so it continues. Once they miss the point, you might as well wait a while until their brains can reset, otherwise you’ll talk in circles until you’re both either laughing or crying (or both!)
Such circumstances can be really amusing as young moms, giggling over the misunderstandings with friends over coffee. But when those same misunderstandings hit the church, it’s a whole lot less funny.
I can’t help but wonder today if we’ve missed the point—even in our own church.
Don’t get me wrong. The church means well, providing clever alliteration and three point sermons and acrostics to help gain the victory in the Christian life. It preaches and coaxes and urges us—to do better, be better, to win others to the Kingdom. To volunteer in the nursery and teach Vacation Bible School and fill goody bags for carnivals and spoon soup for Wednesday night dinners. To pass out tracts and brochures and invite our friends to the holiday musicals.
But ultimately, the church is run ragged, because the church can’t do it all. It can’t meet every need and plug every hole. It can’t fix every problem and fill every gap—physically or spiritually. So the pastor, the staff, the same small, dedicated handful of volunteers are stuck on a virtual hamster wheel, running and running and accomplishing nothing but fatigue and overworked muscles. Wondering what went wrong and how they can fix it. Another conference. Another meeting. Another ministry. Running, running, running.
While hearts remain broken. Lies remain claimed as truth. And wounds refuse to heal.
Where is Jesus in the chaos?
Oh, we do our part as church members, too. We fill the pews with our monogrammed Bibles, jot down every syllable of the sermon, and consider the multiple sign-up sheets. We bring brownies to the fellowships and quarters for the Sunday School fund and make sure our children are inside the church every time the doors are open. We refill the complimentary coffee pots, write our tithe checks, and dutifully sing the closing invitation chorus.
But we’ve missed the point. We’ve missed Jesus.
Because Jesus and religion aren’t at all the same.
And as young adults in our 20’s and 30’s, we’re in a bad place. We’re taught early on to be the best. Do the most. Win the awards, strive harder, push through, and conquer. We’re supposed to be the generation that saves the world, one career rung, one designer wardrobe and one spotless kitchen at a time. We’re supposed to be the ones to impress and encourage and never wear out. We’re young, right? We’re healthy. We’re hip. We’re ideal.
Yet while running the rat race in high heels, juggling diaper bags and mortgages and briefcases, we’ve forgotten that the Bible tucked under our arm is meant to be read. To be absorbed. To lead us deeper in our relationship with Jesus.
We’ve totally missed the point.
We can volunteer for anything, attend everything offered, and still miss Jesus. He’s not nearly as impressed with our sign-up sheets and our volunteer work and our church attendance as He is with the condition of our hearts. You can change diapers in the nursery, scoop mashed potatoes in a homeless shelter, invite your entire gated community to the Easter play, score that promotion at work, and see your kid land on the honor roll—but at the end of the day, it’s not enough.
Our best is never enough.
That’s why we need Jesus.
This fact shouldn’t be discouraging—it’s actually pretty encouraging. Because it’s permission to let go of the pressure. The burden to save the world isn’t on your shoulders, it’s on the Lord’s. And His back is well prepared for the weight of the cross.
Don’t get me wrong—we’re to do our part for the Kingdom of God. We’re to tell others the Good News of the Gospel, and live a life worthy of the testimony we have as believers.
But from what I’ve seen lately, we’ve been picking up the wrong burdens. Remember, His yoke is easy and His burden is light. So stop feeling like you’ve got to do it all to do your part. Quit believing you have to do everything decently instead of doing a few things well. Jump off the hamster wheel and revel in the glorious freedom Jesus offers us.
We’re not ever going to be good enough.
And isn’t that great?
Betsy St. Amant lives in Louisiana with her fireman hubby and adorable preschooler. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is multi-published in Contemporary Romance. Her first YA novel, ADDISON BLAKELY, CONFESSIONS OF A PK, released 2012 through Barbour Publishers. When she's not reading, writing, or singing along to the Tangled soundtrack with her young daughter, Betsy enjoys sharing the good news of God's grace through inspirational speaking and teaching. You can read more about Betsy at www.bestystamant.com.