It's amazing how many times I've run up against the criticism that Christians are judgmental. It's been named on numerous websites and a few studies, including the book unChristian. The shortest answer I have for that criticism is, "You're right."
I take quite seriously the admonition to be in the world, but not of it. To not be conformed to the ways of this world. To be a light to the world. All those things. All those things that say, "This world is broken; God has a better way."
My personal life is quite calm, sometimes downright boring. For the most part, I'm the designated driver, plan for a rainy day, think about the consequences kind of person. In ministry, parents love my stable, show up, be consistent traits.
I work to make my faith an embodied, living reality. I hope that faith is evident apart from my work and vocation. With God's help, my life does look very different from the ways of this world.
Yet, I find myself biting my tongue often when I'm with church folks. I try to gauge how much truth I can speak, how much is safe to reveal. Yes, there's appropriate pastoral boundaries, which I hope to employ. Then, there's this...this thing voice that says, "You can't say that here."
I can't say my best theological conversations are over dinner with people who steer clear of church. I certainly can't name the reasons they steer clear of church.
I can't say that the non-clergy friends from my life in mainline Protestant world have absolutely no clue why I would bother with church.
I can't say that, you know what, I really don't know how to theologically process transsexualism, but I want a community that will genuinely wrestle with that question.
I don't talk about the movies I watch or the books I read without careful deliberation, even though I am convinced that some Stephen King works provide better theological fodder than 90% of what is in the devotional section of bookstores. Give me an exorcism movie if you want to talk about the problems of evil and the difficulties of being faithful. I have an ever-growing whole collection if you want a viewing party!
The list of things I don't speak could go on and on.
And every one of those things adds a little bit to that chasm between my world and the church. It's part of the ever-growing concern I have, wondering if there is a church that has room for people like me and people nothing like me. I'm pretty sure the Kingdom of God does.
Oh--and one other thing. I want a community that holds me accountable, and yes, might even judge me. Please, look for the works that are a mark of my faith. See if I have done what Jesus asked--clothed the poor, fed the hungry, visited the lonely.
Look for the fruits of the Spirit. Guide me when I am not gentle enough. Admonish me when I speak in hate rather than love. Chastise me when I am impatient.
And don't worry that the title of this post is a quote from Sex and the City.