You are not obligated to put on a happy face for the Lord.
A fake smile is transparent.
You don’t have to smile through your tears and exhaustion here
Not in the dwelling place of the Almighty
Yahweh, El Roi
A God of presence. A God who is here, now.
A God of seeing.
A God of intimacy.
Here we sit in our perfectly designed buildings with our perfectly orchestrated appearances, behaving as if rising to our feet to declare that we are joyful when we are tired, that we are full of praise when we are full of rage and that we are celebrating when in fact we are lamenting pleases the Lord.
We declare that we are rising out of the ashes when the truth is that we are still dwelling in the fire. We’re still breathing in the smoke and overwhelmed by the heat while smiling for the crowds as if all is well while internally wanting to scream.
“God where are you?! Won’t you sit with me in this fiery furnace? Won’t you join me in the Lion’s den? Why have you left me here?”
“Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid. Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, I am your salvation.” Psalm 35:2-3
Our hearts scream these rage-psalm words, but our lips drip inauthentic honey.
“If our God is for us, then who could ever stop us-and if our God is with us, then what could stand against?” We sing, lifting our voices as if declaring this to be true will make it so.
Yet we wonder, deep within us…
If this is so, is God for me? Where are you, God?
‘How long, Lord, will you look on?Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions….Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent. Awake, rise to my defense!” Psalm 35:22-23
But still we sing. We declare. “God will be blessed when you rise to your feet even if you’re too tired to do so. Too burned. Too beat. This is what God needs from you. He needs you to ACT like everything is good…even when it’s not. Rise, church. Lift your praises! Lift your voices! Even if your throat is raw and your lips are chapped, this is what the Lord demands of you.”
We claim that this is what God wants. That this is what love looks like.
I sit here pondering the reality of intimacy, and the depth of love, and I realize how false this is. How performative it is. How little it is about true relationship with the God of Creation and how much we’ve made it about us.
I don’t want performative religion.