I should make a bit of a disclaimer at the start of this post. I haven’t actually said this in years but I still hear it from time to time at services or conferences. The person hosting the gathering will stand and say something like,
“It’s great to have you with us. Just as the band are getting ready let me invite you to leave you problems at the door and focus on the Lord.”
I don’t know if I am weak minded or have bigger problems than everyone else but even on the days when I have striven and strained to forget about my problems I have never achieved it. What I have achieved ranges from a feeling of being disconnected from what is happening around me to a deep sense of guilt that I am unable to ‘focus on the Lord’ as well as the person beside me who is doing some sort of performance art that mixes involuntary body-popping with a one man Mexican wave. (You know you’ve seen it too.)
Whilst the heart behind this statement is good i.e. to call people to focus on God, I think it betrays an unspoken and probably unconscious theology that God is only interested in the good in our lives. Statements like these subtly cause us to compartmentalise our lives into the sacred and the secular. Parts of our lives are unwittingly being branded as ‘for God’ whilst others are marked ‘not for God’ as if He isn’t interested the things we are struggling with.
God is interested in our whole lives. God is as interested in your marital struggle as He is in your gift of healing. God is as interested in your loneliness as he is in your passion for evangelism. When Jesus calls all who are heavily burdened to come to Him for rest He isn’t asking them to leave their burden at the door he is asking them to let Him share the load.
So come to church gatherings and conferences and bring all of your problems with you. When you sing of ‘ten thousand reasons for you heart to sing’ hold in the back of your mind the 45 other reasons that are making your heart ache. Don’t come to God as a fraction of yourself come as your whole self. Bring your sin and your struggle. Bring your calm and your chaos. Bring your holiness and your holy-crap-what-is-going-on-ness When Jesus died He died for all of you. He wants you to come in honesty not as some sugar coated version of yourself.