Fall is spectacular. I hadn't noticed, really, until this weekend when I was blissfully stuck at a place in the almost mountains of Tennessee where none of my technology worked. No TV. no phone, no computer, no iPad, no radio, no stress. No doubt the world at the foot of those hills was going on just fine without me being plugged in to it, and when I descended from my sacred seclusion, I was no less informed for what I didn't know of the happenings below.
News. Such a broad word for such a small use of it. Health care, war, politics. News news news. Human beings missing the point of being human. We're made for love and connectedness, relationship with God, people, creation and ourselves. Most of the news, as far as I can tell, is about disconnectedness. At present our Country seems to be in a cold civil war. It's easier to hate a political party or a religion, though, than to have to face the angry sorrow of broken relationships within our homes, churches, or workplaces, or within out own hearts. Hence, the news.
My own heart. That's where the real news happens. I learned a long time ago that my problem was not low self-esteem, but low God esteem. Being rightly related to God covers a multitude of reasons to hate the world or myself. In my experience, God doesn't let me off the hook, but doesn't condemn me, either. It's like Fall. Things die, so things can be reborn.
So, I was cloistered this weekend with a bunch of real Christians. They're everywhere, real Christians. In fact, I suspect that many of the so-called fake Christians are being real as they know how to be. Who gets to make that call anyway? I just know that the people with whom I took communion on that mountain are the real deal and that I can count on them.
What is the distinction between a real Christian and a fake one? Is being real about telling all, the good the bad and the ugly? Is being real about living a Christian lifestyle perfectly? Which manual should I use for the guidelines of perfect Christianity? Baptist, Church of Christ, Nazarene, Lutheran, or Catholic? Technically, a genuine fake Christian would be someone who pretends to be a Christian in order to get something they want, right? They wear religion like a fake mustache.
Well, Groucho, who are you to judge? I get it. Hypocrites mess up church like moisture in the salt shaker. Frankly, I'm sick of the word hypocrite being thrown around so loosely. I'm sure there are Jews, Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, and sports fans who are hypocrites, pretending to love the game so they can come to the parties, but it's like the world waits and watches for the Christians to stumble into a moment that taints the light.
The truth is, I don't prefer the company of the more judgmental Christians, the ones who wouldn't want a gay person in their church, or the ones who would leave because of the color of the new carpet. You know the type, the I'll-pray-for-you-so-I-don't-have-to-talk-to-you-opps-too-busy-to-pray Christians. I just don't get it, but I'm still glad they show up at somebody's church on Sunday. Church matters. All in all, I'm glad for all Christians, fake or real, who gather to worship God and lift up the name of Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord. It's an eternal use of time and collective energy.
I was sitting by a gas fireplace wondering if the fire burns as hot across the fake logs. Those logs won't be consumed. There's no mess to clean up. No ashes. Just a gas-line and flames. Fake logs with a real flame. And so I thought, maybe that's how it is with Christians. The fire is the Spirit. It's the Spirit that reaches people. God's word is proclaimed in many ways, through many voices.
Well, anyway, I'm an organic log for the Lord. And I was with some real logs this week-end, and we can all laugh together for the "foolishness of God that is wiser than the wisdom of man." It was a good use of time and spirit. My life is richer for it. My pain is less. My heart is full. And somehow, Fall is more spectacular.