It’s all well and good being part of those game shows where no one leaves empty-handed.
Those are my favourite game shows, to be fair. Those were the ones in my head that I aspired to get on so that even if I was knocked out I would at least get something!! I wouldn’t leave empty-handed.
What would be something is if we started the game show not empty-handed either. What if we had something to offer in the game show and depending on how we were able to share what we had for the benefit of others we gained more than what we started. Not just ensuring we don’t leave empty-handed but because of our generous nature in looking to share whatever it was we had to share, we left even richer for the experience.
Of course game shows would run on that premise. There’s little competitive edge there, it’s not so much as being greedy to gain all you can as it is about giving what you can to help out others. What kind of viewing figures would that get in this day and age?
Yet, when it comes to the gathering of the saints, there would be an immense amount to gain if that were our natural way of gathering. I know that quite frequently people turn up to church gatherings in a precarious state. For some it’s been the end of a long hard week and they come to the setting to get their moral boost for the week and that’s all they care about.
Some come with a heavy heart and a burdened mind. Such is their complicated situation that they feel a sham of a person showing up, singing songs to keep up appearances, when they’re barely keeping it together.
That’s why I like how some gatherings have operated. They’re not so much into the primacy of the ritual and routine – not that there’s anything wrong with a structure and a format. Yet there’s a great sensitivity to a communal experience of encountering God that’s just as much about bearing each others’ burdens as it is about singing the songs.
Sometimes what there is to offer in that setting is your bare and wounded soul. No great testimony of how you were stuck for food and an angel provided. No awesome insight into scripture. Just a frank and honest admission of feeling a fraud, a fake and a failure and leaving that open for the gathering to digest, and prayerfully support. Sometimes offering that gives permission for others in the gathering to see that this encounter with God is an open, vulnerable, transparent and truthful encounter with how we are.
That permission also acknowledges that some people feel great in God. That’s brilliant. That joy and energy and drive shouldn’t be downplayed and ignored – it’s part of the life of Christ in the Body of Christ. We mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. That works when we give the room for people to feel free to look inside themselves and consider the gathering not as what can they can get from it, but what have they got to offer to ensure others don’t leave empty-handed.
Some settings put a higher value on those able to speak well or sing, but there are those among us who best share through other means. Not everyone is able to read well and understand what Revelation 18 means, but their contribution is just as valid an insight into who Jesus is, how God walks with us in the issues of life. In honouring those who don’t capture the attention as a ‘public performer’ we have to create the space for them to be comfortable seeing what they have to offer, enabling them to share it and us accepting it as something designed to build us in our faith in Jesus.
Cultivating that kind of environment around the gathering can help the mind-set of people to appreciate their life’s journey so that whenever we meet the same question motivates our individual approach.
What do I have to offer?
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden