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It was that time of the year again when believers gathered together at Pastor Eli’s church, the largest in the country at that time. As usual, they would sing hymns, dance and give thanks. Then Pastor Eli would read out a few passages, remind them of God’s laws before dispersing the congregation. And that was it! Most people returned home, feeling happy that they had once again marked another event in their lives much the same way we mark Christmas, New Year and Easter. Simply put, they had fulfilled righteousness and at the end of it all, they returned the way they came (no pun intended).
However, there was a lady who saw things a little differently. Hannah reasoned that she couldn’t have travelled all that way to participate in activities that she could simply have done at home and by herself for that matter. Surely, God had more in mind than a bunch of yearly routine activities when he called for this meeting. So she decided to stay behind after the camp meeting and ask God some tough questions. Questions like why she was still childless after several years of marriage despite her devotion to Him. Questions like what exactly Pastor Eli meant when he said ‘The Love of God has been shed across our hearts by the Holy Spirit’.
Actually, she had asked the person seated next to her about Pastor Eli’s statement because he was always nodding and seemed to understand all the deep words Pastor Eli spoke. His response puzzled her. ‘I don’t know what it means’ he had replied. She got a similar response from ten other people she asked. Moreover, every time she asked questions, people looked at her strangely like why are you asking all these questions? You’re not supposed to not understand! So Hannah had no choice than to start asking God directly for answers.
Today’s Christian is an enigma to her peers outside the church. She like other Christians are nothing but zombies trained in the art of ’Christianese’. As she enters the church, her hunger pangs vanish and her tears dry up. The moment she mounts the podium, her messed up relationship is forgotten and everything seems to be alright with the world once again. It even shows in her dressing – she reserves her best dresses for Sundays. Some may say she is appreciating God for His goodness but in actuality, she drops all her problems at the door of the church, steps in and conforms to an invisible code of conduct that lasts just as long as the service. At the end of the service, she picks up her problems and resumes life as she knows it. Meanwhile, her fellow zombie Christians silently wish they God could bless them just like he did for her, acutely unaware of the struggles she’s dealing with.
The Zombie Christian doesn’t ask questions (I am not talking of the widespread cynicism that is prevalent on social media). He simply nods at whatever the pastor says, whether he understands it or not. He is quick to say ‘Amen’ at the slightest mention of ‘Jesus name’. I recall attending a service where the pastor said, “If you obey God and serve him, he is going to bless you abundantly.” Then as if prompted by a conductor at an orchestra, the congregation shouted ‘Amen!’ I was puzzled. The pastor had just stated a condition, not a prayer and here was the entire congregation saying ‘Amen’. Apparently, they weren’t listening to the sermon.
In Zombie Christianity, everyday issues that affect lives are avoided like a plague. The church is too holy to discuss filthy issues like sex. Yet many Zombie Christians engage in these acts even if they go against what the church preaches. In short, Zombie Christianity revolves around the need for the Church to appear perfect at all cost. This is what we fail to get. God didn’t call perfect people to him. He called imperfect people, so there’s no use trying to act perfect when we are not. It is only when we come as we are that we can experience God’s grace and have our deepest issues solved.
So how did Hannah’s story end? Well, she eventually got to meet Pastor Eli and confront him with the questions and burdens she had been carrying a long time – she wasn’t interested in putting up a ‘church performance’. Pastor Eli prayed with her and also answered some of those nagging question that had always bothered her. The following year, Hannah was back with her first born, Samuel, who grew up to become the country’s leader and prime minister. He even has two books in the Bible attributed to his name. I wonder if Samuel would have been born if Hannah kept up with the Church Zombeeism and did not open up before God.
Takeaway: The church is not a place to appear or pretend to be perfect. It is not the place to pretend all is well with the world. It is not a place to pretend to be a saint. It is not the classroom where people have ‘no questions’. The church is not a place to pretend that certain sins do not and cannot exist. It is not a place where sex cannot be discussed because it is ‘unholy’. It however, is a place to get real – real with God and real with other people.
The church is a spiritual Alcoholics Anonymous: In it there are no perfect people and there are no holier than thous. – #AnalyticalMind [click icon to tweet]
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