Dear past me. Firstly, I don’t have the almanac, and I won’t tell you the winning lotto numbers. It might break the space-time continuum. Secondly and more seriously, err… thanks. You had a choice to abandon your faith – but you made a choice to follow Christ wherever that lead. I sit here, writing to you with a loving family around me, in a great church, comfortable in my own skin – I am so very grateful for that choice. But if you’re willing to listen, I have a few bits of advice for you, so listen up:
Mullets, Moustaches and Goatees: NO
I just had to get that off my chest first. Don’t listen to Cris, mullets aren’t cool. Just don’t do it. Please.
It’s a Big Church
I get it, you love this new church you’ve found – and you love feeling connected to people like you. Good. But they don’t have monopoly on friendships – keep in contact with old mates. And don’t let volunteering suck all time away from your family. Don’t forget – church is a lot wider and deeper than your limited experience. The broader church is diverse and that’s a good thing. Baptists can be very wise, Orthodox churches are filled with wonder and history and the beauty of liturgy. Check out those Methodists and visit the Catholic monastery at New Norcia. Talk to some Presbyterians and visit small churches – there are some wonderful ones in our city. Other traditions have different strengths which will help you see your weaknesses. Don’t write them off because of their flaws. We need each other. Build friends with these people learn from them. They all love Jesus – and they’re part of your new family.
Approval and Church
You’ll be pretty busy at the moment. Out five nights a week or more with youth meetings, worship practice, church events and training and the like.
I’ll be honest – my church experiences weren’t always positive. And, no it wasn’t all the fault of organised religion. Some of that had to do with me; I mean, with you. Evangelical faith-filled churches have ambitious goals – and I can’t argue that those goals aren’t worth sacrificing to achieve. Churches will sometimes put more pressure on you than they should to get you to participate, invite, volunteer, serve, lead and give. That’s their bad – but you have a responsibility too. Your need for approval will drive you to do things for other people to accept you and promote you. It will be easy to put all the blame onto them for this – don’t.
You have no idea how deep this rabbit hole goes. The gospel saved me and will save you from becoming a religious performer. A self-righteous snob. And yes, the gospel is far more than just the talk at the end of the sermon. It’s far more than just the intro to Christianity. It’s freedom from the religious performance treadmill that you don’t quite realise you’re on yet. Find out what the gospel truly means.
Seriously, have a laugh and don’t be so intense. The occasional beer helps. Mac computers aren’t that bad, (seriously – buy Apple shares now) oh and avoid flying Malaysian airlines. Just quietly, shower more often, hang your clothes out IMMEDIATELY after washing them. My life has been filled with our mistakes, and I wouldn’t really change anything you’re going to do or go through. Somehow, through it all, God had his way. He’s great like that. Oh, and finally, if you ever think about writing a blog? I’ve got a great name for you…