I met with a group of men this week, and the topic of conversation swung around to what we did to recharge our batteries (so to speak). Each and every one of us were recharged by reading the Bible, or hearing the Bible preached (among other things), but many of us felt the need to add a qualification to that. Something along the lines of “I don’t mean to sound all spiritual, but I am actually refreshed by spending time in the Word of God.”
The thing that really struck me is that we are all pastors, employed to celebrate God’s grace, mercy and love to all people through Jesus, and to point people to the truth of that in Scripture. And yet we all seemed to feel some level of guilt of actually being recharged or refreshed by that. We needed to add in a qualification, to apologise for actually being comforted by the things God has given us to be comforted by.
Which got me thinking about Australian culture and the Gospel. Its very much part of Australian culture to not want to be thought of as diligent or studious. Instead we prize being thought of as light hearted and not too serious. We look at serious things and experience a burning desire to mock and deride the people who take them seriously as being altogether too keen.
Its one of the reasons why Australians don’t talk deeply about serious issues, or even think deeply about them. And so, by and large, Australians aren’t interested in talking about, or admitting to, much of anything deeper than our physical situation and physical comforts. Its why we have this instinctive need to apologise for discussing anything about our spiritual needs and the comfort of our souls.
I think this is reflected in the fact that after a church service, where we have been singing God’s praised, joined together in corporate prayer, heard God’s Word read aloud and explained and applied, most Christians are more comfortable talking about anything but what we have just done. The kids. The weather. The job. The family.
We need a different culture within our churches so that people can look in and see that Jesus actually changes our hearts. He gives us depth, and openness, and comfort in a way most other people refuse to even admit they have a need for. Otherwise, being a Christian doesn’t mean a lot more than adding attendance at a church service to the list of things we need to do each week. If we can’t find joy and encouragement and refreshment except in secret, apologising when we admit it to someone, surely we are missing the Glory of God in some way.