Church: Look At Your Reflection
-Rev Melissa Fain-
Over the course of a year, I lost four dress sizes. People, who hadn't seen me in awhile noticed the difference, and almost always asked the same question:
"Melissa, how did you do it?"
My answer was almost always the same:
"I ate less and exercised more."
The question is asked to seek the golden fix. What is something they can easily do to shed the pounds without actually working? I don't hold it against anyone when they look visibly bummed with my simple, yet difficult answer.
If I were discussing the subject with someone I saw beyond a pass by at Kroger I'd say this:
"I forced myself to look at my body in the mirror every day from the day I started."
Mirrors are not forgiving inventions. They don't lie for a direct and honest purpose. They tell us what our friend, family or random Jo on the street won't. How do we really look? We're not actually looking at ourselves. Our reflection isn't really us, but it's as close to us as we are going to get without being someone else looking at us.
I saw me. At first it was nothing special. Yeah, I'm a little pudgy. I'm hug-able. Then, as I lost, I began to see what I was becoming. I didn't want to return. As I enter the maintenance part of my weight loss, I probably look in the mirror more. I know what I could easily become. The mirror told me, and most mirrors don't lie.
The Church Deinvested in the Mirror Business.
Back in the 2000's I was sold on South Park. It was suggested by a minister to watch the Jesus versus Satan episode. "Everyone is verbally rooting for Jesus to beat Satan in a ring match, while placing bets that Satan would be the one to win. It's the church! Trey Smith and Matt Stone correctly named the church! It was brilliant!" (That's not a direct quote, but it's fairly close to how it went.)
Up until that very moment I was taught to shun the sources that mocked the church. In that single moment my perception changed. South Park wasn't mocking, they were reflecting. For the very first time I was able to see our reflection, and it was ugly.
Since then I've seen all kinds of mirrors.
I saw Biblical literalism in Supernatural, Dogma and Good Omens. These are all great example of the world if the Bible were played out literally. Except for apples, because, the Bible never mentions apples being the forbidden fruit. Yet these literal romps want to make the fruit a Red Delicious, These movies and television shows try to play out the Bible like it's a map. I find them interesting when I see a scripture completely misrepresented, because it helps me see how Biblical literalism is not the right path, even if it does make a compelling CW show.
More seriously, I saw the congregants reflection in the likes of South Park, Saved, and yes, even Bubble Boy. I needed to know how the secular world viewed the church. I realized I hadn't really looked at a good reflection of my faith in... ever.
My spiritual reflection showed I didn't have a hug-able faith, but a dangerous, razor sharp faith. While fellow Christians were telling me to boycott Comedy Central; to tell me I was less of a Christian for watching Saved, I was beginning to see what the secular world saw. We were monsters.
The church de-invested in the mirror business when the cultural view began to reflect something other than the perfect picture they were used to seeing. Many churches, instead of critiquing their choices and becoming something worth reflecting, they simply pasted their old image over the reflection and moved on. As the reflections darkened and became more sinister, the average congregant remained clueless.
We Are All Guilty
I fully believe most Christians at least heard of the brokenness within the church. The stories of Clergy and congregant abuse is flourishing like weeds in a garden. Their reaction is typical. Almost all will cry out in anger. The brokenness must stop. They must stop. That sentence is key. It's like we're aware of other church's mirrors, but clueless of our own. We all cry out for restoration, as long as we're restoring someone else. Only, we can't restore someone else. Change must come from within.
We must name the truth. We must admit we are failures. The biggest truth I can name is this:
Jesus never stopped death.