Every church has its ‘meet and greet’ session, usually somewhere towards the beginning. The pastor will get up and say a few words, maybe make an announcement or two, then say something like, “Now will you take a moment to greet those around you”. And there are hands being shook, friends talking, and gossip flowing (yup, even in church).
It’s kind of fun being the new-ish guy in a church (even though I’ve been there a while) and seeing how people tend to stick to those they know. I’ve been approached by a few people, but by and large I’m ignored, or at least not noticed. Part of me completely understands – it’s difficult and sometimes scary introducing yourself to someone new (I usually never go out of my way to make new friends).
Discussions in church usually go like this: name, how I am doing, what I do, how the weather is today. That’s the good, American, superficial way to make small talk. There’s never anything brought up in the conversation that’s too hard to deal with or handle. This kind of conversation is easy to be in – it’s simple, on the surface stuff.
There are times when I like to throw things for a loop with people and I’ll drop in something serious just to make the conversation uncomfortable. The other person, being polite, will ask how I’m doing, and I will answer with something about my mom’s cancer still being in remission, or my dad struggling with work, or how we all worry about how we’re going to take care of each other with less and less money, or that I’m feeling lonely; sometimes I’ll throw in some stuff about my bankruptcy or divorce or son that I know nothing about.
And I do this because, frankly, it’s stuff I want to talk about. It’s stuff that needs to be talked about. We all have this kind of stuff in our lives that we want to talk about. Serious stuff, life stuff. Divorces, bad relationships, cheating spouses, abuse, issues with raising kids, money problems, medical issues, aging parents, work problems. There’s so many things in our lives that we desperately want to talk about, but we never really feel like we have the opportunity to talk about them with other people. A lot of times I think that people don’t want to know the dirty stuff in my life, the real stuff, so why should I even bother
them with it? Sadly, I’m sure that’s what a lot of other people feel and that’s why they don’t open up to me.
We’re all a little closed off from one another. We ask them how they are, they say fine, and we say good. Then we move on to the next outstretched hand to shake and repeat the process. We need to look for the hurting, the broken, and the weary that are in our own homes, our own churches, our own neighborhoods. It’s great that we send out missionaries to other countries, but sometimes I really think we need to get our own people taken care of first. We need to feed the hungry family that sits next to us in church. We need to visit with our elderly neighbor. We need to pay for a tank of gas for the single mom struggling to make ends meet. But we don’t do this stuff because a lot of times we just don’t know that people have these needs.
I can’t find it anywhere in the bible where Jesus asks people how they are doing. He never has a casual conversation with anyone:
“And the Lord sayeth to John, ‘How’s it going?’
And John answereth, ‘I’m alright. Just fishin’ and what not.’
The Lord smileth with gladness and went about his day.”
Jesus is portrayed in the bible as going out and looking for people to help, he asks what’s troubling people, what’s wrong, and what he can do to fix it. We need to be asking more of the hard questions, the real questions that people want to be asked. Look around – there are people dying to talk, people that need help, people that want a shoulder to cry on.
.much love. sheth.