A while ago we watched a documentary about the working environment of a large company in Asia that makes particular parts for electronics. In this specific case employees were expected to do an incredibly menial task 15,000 times in an eight hour shift. The working environment was inhumane not because of dirt or grime or dangerous working conditions, in this work place humanness is stifled and discouraged. All wore white overalls, heads covered only eyes showing, gloves too, creating a barrier for the sake of cleanliness. “No talking!” They were repeatedly told they must be quiet and focus. They were reduced to almost non active robots in a sterile unnatural environment. It made me think surely this is not how God intended us to live? We who are made in God’s image – made to move, and speak and think and be creative. These people need to be set free to be allowed to be human again! Sadly, this was seen by many as a desirable occupation.
If we look at places where Sharia law is the keeper of people’s souls and controls people’s lives, it is no doubt promoted to adherents as ideal and helpful. But truthfully, out of fear and superstition peoples lives soon become very small so as not to offend or be punished in some ghastly way. Women’s lives can be reduced to a black silent nothingness, now seen as a shame and curse. Men too are absorbed into the corporate and lose their individuality, dressing alike, thinking alike, praying alike, perhaps too afraid of being detached from their heads to hold their own opinion! Life stifling religion is seen in perhaps its most obvious and gross manifestation for our day and age under these conditions. But wherever religion is used to drive fear into its adherents and seeks to control their actions and thoughts the human light is snuffed out.
It seems in the West we are encouraged to lose our individuality and life through passive consumption of media, that often voices the same messages in varying forms; It’s not ok to be you, you should be more like this; think like this; act like this, dress like this.
Whether in Asia, the West or the Middle East, in varying degrees, in work, play or worship it looks like we are losing our humanity and life.
But as Christians – Christ’s light bearers we’re different right?
Are we, as believers in the Life and Light a stark contrast to the world? Does our worship and fellowship burst forth with His life?
As this world grows more controlled and conformist, sterile and dark, of all the people who should show forth the life and light we have been created for are those called by His Name and have His Spirit living in us. Perhaps one of the times where life and humanity should be expressed is when we are fellowshipping with other believers.
But in these times do we allow individuals to truly be? Is our fellowship diverse in thought and culture? Do we encourage everyone to be human and live in the fullness of the image of our Maker and exercise giftings and creativity imparted by God’s Spirit? Are we patient with imperfections and extend grace as people continue on the path of sanctification at the pace God has set for them and no one else?
Let us fellowship as we ought. Let us allow others to be free and accept them as they are and where they are at. Let us love freely and strongly.
Let us lose the passivity of the submissive congregation to the words of one voice week after week. Let us lose the repetitious services of the worship – notices – prayer – sermon, communion – giving – closing worship song – so as to finish on the dot, format.
Let us hear each person who has been touched by God and may we be encouraged.
Let us worship freely and praise Him loudly without fear of offense or drawing attention to ourselves. Let us trust God’s Spirit to keep our gatherings orderly.
Let us stop stifling and squirming when human emotions are aired. Let us rejoice because we are freely exercising our humanness.
Let us allow heartfelt repentance, sorrow and grief over sin in our lives and the world. Let us not care about keeping up appearances of looking like we’ve got it all together because -now we are saved.
Let us break free from our congregating only with those who put emphasis on the same doctrines we do and looking sideways or isolating those who don’t think quite the same as us.
Let us debate freely and hear what others are thinking without immediate judgment or rejection or fear because it doesn’t fit our paradigm.
Let us allow people to think creatively to solve problems and to promote ministries that will by His Spirit pierce the darkness built up around the lifeless beings that have forgotten how to be human.
Let us be willing to suffer and bare each other’s burdens.
Let us be willing to get dirty in life and rub shoulders with ‘sinners’ and broken people and dare to witness work in ourselves of patience and humility. Then in turn, witness his healing work delivering others from the clutches of sin and death.
Let us be human and live! May God enable this in my life and yours.
And may we glorify God and see His Kingdom come!
What else can we ‘Let’ in our times of fellowship to fully express our God-given humanness and freedom?