Is every experience valid?

24 01 2008

So here we are: life is made up of experience following experience, most of which we don’t think about, a number of which we just plough into, and many of which are painful. So here’s the next thought: how do I know how real that experience was?

Most of the time we don’t need to bother to even think about it, because it was a minor or trivial experience which had no ongoing effect. For example, I wake up in the morning, get up, and clean my teeth. Well I suppose you could argue that each of those bits of experience were highly significant with real effects. If I don’t wake up I’m either dead or in a coma. If I don’t get up after a I wake up, I’m going to miss out on a multitude of opportunities that this day offers. If I don’t clean my teeth they’ll eventually fall out but, hey, I do these things without thinking so why bother to think about them.

 No, it’s that whole category of things with a slightly indefinite air about them that I’ve got in mind here. There are those experiences that involve other people who are just playing me along. There’s the guy behind the till who is being nice to me, not because he knows me and wants for my best, but because he wants me to come back again and being nice to me might encourage me to do that. It’s nice to be spoken to nicely but how real is this encounter.

As a Christian I wonder this about church services. How real are they so often? Is standing up and singing a hymn or whatever when prompted a real experience or is it performing? Is reading a prayer out of a service book a real encounter with God or just performing? Are so many of the facets of Sunday services in churches real or pretend? When we go into a church service, dare we be real? When we’re greeted and asked, “Hi, how are you this morning?” Is that a real greeting or would that person rather not know. If you answered, “Well, actually I’m feeling terrible this morning. I feel utterly depressed and suicidal, I’ve just lost my partner and my job and my car’s been stolen,” I wonder how that other person would react?

Church is the place where people who have encountered Jesus Christ tend to gather isn’t it? Isn’t Jesus described as full of grace and truth? Doesn’t he demand truth of us? So how come we so often play an unreal game?

The reality is that many of us in life are staggering around full of pain and hurt and anger and bitterness over what life has done to us, and we wish we didn’t have to carry all that junk, but there seem few people around who genuinely understand and care. More than any other place on earth, church should be the place where that  understanding and care can be found, and if it’s not, it’s time we changed it!  I’ll give some illustrations tomorrow.

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One response

25 01 2008
C.L. Mareydt

!!! … now that is some truth … !!!

if we would really “get real” – “be real” in everything … perhaps we could change the world. we would at least arise as a viable human being! a sentient human being!

thank you for this timely reminder, your article hit my spirit & will be residing & motivating me for my individual & collective purpose!

this is what inspiration is all about. call this a ‘God’ moment? I most certainly do!

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