Friday, April 16, 2010

The Theology of Haircuts.

What is it about haircuts? There is something about going in and getting your hair cut off that is refreshing. I got my hair cut on Wednesday and I walked out feeling like a new person. My hair going into the appointment was a mess. It stuck out everywhere and just got in the way and it was hot on those 90 degree days.. That's when I went in and got it cut. Having all of my hair gone felt much better.

I wasn't always this way. I used to hate getting my hair cut. I think it had to do with the fact that I went to a barber shop to a guy named Walter who would talk loudly and wave his hands around while trying to cut my hair. There is something that isn't reassuring about a guy who waves a pair of scissors at your head while you are strapped to a chair. I don't know, maybe I'm the only one who feels that way.

I think there was something else. I hated change when I was young. No, really, I HATED CHANGE. Seriously, I cried on New Year's Eve 1989 because I was sad that the 80's were gone. ( I can't believe that I just admitted that). But I did. I hated change. I didn't think there was anything wrong with my hair. Here's how bad it was. When I was 9, I had a rat tail. (wow, another admission that I could have done with out.) I had one of several forms of "The Mullet". I had a mullet and I didn't want to get it cut. I cried when I went to Walter's Barber Shop. I climbed into the chair and he took his scissors and cut it off. He then held it up and made a war cry that someone would cry after scalping someone. The guy was terrifying. I cried all afternoon. I didn't see anything wrong with my hair. 

So what happened? Somewhere along the way I realized that change didn't have to be a bad thing. In fact, change could free me from things that were keeping me down. I began to embrace change. Sometimes it was still painful. Sometimes I had to let go of things that I had held on to for years. But I started to see change as a good thing. Haircuts soon became a chance for a new beginning. It was a chance to take away the mess that my hair had become and start again from scratch.

I hate it when my sin is pointed out to me. Whether it's by the Bible, or a sermon, my wife, or prayer, it hurts. It hurts to hear that I had been going against God's will and that I need to change. It is painful to change our lives to reflect God. But it's just like a haircut. Sometimes we let our lives get messy. We let sin into our lives and it just gets in the way and messes everything up. If we let this sin continue we will ultimately be overwhelmed. We might get to the point where we don't see anything wrong with how we are living.

Even though it's tough, we need to confront the sin in our life just like we need to get our hair cut. We need the ability to start fresh. We need a clean slate. We need to cut all of the sin out of our lives so that we can start from scratch. It's beautiful that God can do this for us through Christ Jesus. Our lives can be completely changed if we would accept the notion that we are sinners and that God can help cut the sin from our lives. We can encounter God and feel like a new creation.

That's the theology of a haircut.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Christian F-Word

Admit it. You opened this just to see the F-word. I know you did. That's just sad.  I mean really! I have been reading the book Stuff Christians Like by Jon Acuff recently. It's a good book. You should check it out. He mentions the Christian F-word towards the end of that book. Acuff didn't create the term but used it in his book. Ok, I know, you wanna know what the F-word is.

The Christian F-word is "Fine".  Here's the thing. We ALL use this word. I hear it 100 times on Sunday morning. It goes something like this.

Me - "Hey there Steve, how's it going?"
Steve - "Fine"
Me - "Fine? I heard you dog get hit by a car yesterday while chasing your cat who incidentally choked on your goldfish."
Steve - "Oh yeah, it was a miserable day, but i'm fine."

Ok that's a really bad example but it's been a long day so that's what you get. 

For some reason when we show up to church on Sunday morning we feel the need to portray that our lives are perfectly "fine".  We desperately want others to see that our lives are "fine" And maybe if we sell it hard enough we'll believe that everything in our lives are "fine".

But let's be honest. Things are not "fine". We are humans and sometimes life is hard. Ok, not even sometimes. Life is often hard. So why do we work so hard to convince the world that we are "fine"? Why do we hide behind the "fine" mask?

Is it because we feel that no one is interested in our problems? I can see that. Have you ever started to go into your issues and you see the person you are talking to start to glaze over. When they asked how you were doing you were supposed to answer fine....that way they get credit for asking and they don't have to stand around and listen to your life story. I see this a lot. Honestly, people just don't care.

Or could it be that we don't want to admit our problems? I mean how cool is it to respond like this:  "Well to be honest, my life is about to fall apart. I don't know how I'm going to make it through this" It's painful to admit when we don't have our lives together. It's a blow to our pride for others to know that we just aren't on top of things.

There is a problem with "fine". there is a big problem.  When we consistently LIE to others about how we are we do a couple of things.

1. We enable the Church to stop caring-  If someone tells me they are fine consistently, I begin to anticipate it and then I begin to not even listen to the answer. I think this happens a lot. I can tell when someone asks but doesn't really care. By always responding, "Fine", we are robbing the church of one of it's principal values. We are robbing the church of the opportunity to care for each other. Thanks to the Christian F-Word we are now so rusty at caring for each other that we don't do it at all.

2. We begin to Lie to God. - I know for a fact that if we LIE to others enough we will start to believe it. If we believe it, we will tell God that it's the truth. Essentially we LIE to God. There's a reason I keep capitalizing LIE. We have to admit that it is LYING. Lying is a sin. When we answer "fine" we are on the path to lying to God.

3. We ruin it for when things are actually Fine- Your main thought while reading this is "what if things really are fine?" It's like the boy who cries wolf. I've heard so many people lie about being fine that I don't believe anyone anymore. I'm sorry if you really are fine. I don't believe you. Here's the deal. There are so many better ways you can describe your life than using "fine" so use them! Don't settle for "fine"

So what should you do with this. I'll tell you. Next time someone asks you how you are doing, answer honestly. If your life sucks at that moment, say, "My life sucks right now, here's why....." If your life is going well, say "Life is pretty good right now, here's why...."

Maybe, just maybe, if we start being honest and stop using the F-word, the church can get better at caring for each other. Remember, our lives are just as messed up as yours. That's why God gave us each other. We can come together, grow closer to Him, and praise Him in the good and bad times.

Think about that as you go out in life. I'll be watching and asking, "How are you doing?"
Here's to something other than, "fine".