Posted: October 3, 2007 in Church, Perspective

I live in a messy house.  By “messy,” I mean “armageddon.”  As I sit here typing this, there is a tent – yes a TENT – in my living room which has become my daughter’s home away from her bedroom.  This started with her simply asking to “camp” in the den.  So we let her.  In the meantime, her bedroom has turned into what looks like a Toys R’ Us next to a Bed, Bath, and Beyond after a tornado – toys, clothes…everywhere.  So she practically lives in the tent now.  I absolutely kid you not when I say you cannot walk to her bed.  Such is the unfortunate consequence of my wife and I staying busy (trips, work, etc.), having meetings or rehearsals practically every evening, and 2 kids at that phase where “cleaning up” isn’t their job, it’s mom and dad’s.  We’re lucky just to find enough time in a 24-hour period just to sleep.

I can’t blame it on them, though.  My bedroom is no better.  Neither is the bonus room where I work.  Simple habits like “pouring out that half finished can of Mountain Dew” escape me.  There’s almost never at least one day of the week that goes by when I can’t find either my keys, my wallet, or my ‘other’ shoe.  I can’t tell which laundry hamper has the clean clothes and which one is dirty unless I dare perform the “smell” test.  Yesterday, I discoverd 3 – THREE! – open (and good) packages of hamburger buns on the counter.  (At least we’re conscientious enough about the mess to actually throw away most things that might draw in bugs or other pests).  I have boxes of stuff that has too much “sentimental value” to throw away.  I mean, who really needs a fully-functioning Atari 2600 stored on a shelf in the garage or drawers full of jeans that I SWEAR I will fit into again one day (30 x 30 wasn’t that long ago, dang it!!!)

I think Stacey and I will literally have to take a vacation for NO OTHER REASON except to clean the house.  (Of course, here I am blogging while the mess stares me in the face).  Sure, we should build better habits – like NOT throwing clothes on the floor 2 feet from the laundry hamper.

But there are times the mess does not bother me at all.  Though I’m certain to step on anyone’s toes who’s fully or partially OCD by saying this, I’ll say it anyway:  There are greater priorities than cleaning your house.

  • A lot of times, we’d rather spend time playing with our kids in the evening than making them clean their room.
  • A lot of times, we’d rather go out to eat as a family than stay home and vacuum the floor.
  • Skipping small group to clean the den has little payoff in the long run.
  • Allowing Stacey time to rest after working 9 hours in the pharmacy is better than tiring her out with, “Honey, let’s clean dishes.”

Let’s face it, “messy” happens – especially if there are things in your life more important than simply having a clean house.

Maybe it’s the same way with the church.  “Messy” happens – especially if we’re about reaching people who’s lives are messy.  The truth is, a lot of people’s lives are anything but “cleaned up.”  They’re living in sin or living with the consequences of sin.  They’re hurting.  They’re wounded.  They have a hard time focusing, prioritizing, healing…even sleeping or wanting to get out of bed in the morning.  Maybe they’re even so afraid of their “mess,” that they don’t dare encroach upon the walls of our hallowed, “clean” sanctuaries.

Yet, it is these messy, hurting, and sinful people we are called to go after and invite in.  Jesus did not come to rescue the well (the Pharisee inviting Jesus to dinner), but the sick (the prostitute washing his feet with her own hair).

Messy doesn’t just happen.  It should happen.  Our seats – whether theater seats like Crosspoints or pews like _____ Baptist church down the road – should be filled with messy people because we are connecting with them.  We will not change the world by shying away from people who lead messy lives.  We will not change the world by opening our doors to people who already have their acts together and already have a relationship with Christ.  Sure, we welcome those people – if they,  too, want to help us connect with people who do not have their acts together and do not have a relationship with Christ.  We cannot sit on the sidelines and condemn the world – the hurting, the sick, the needy.  We are called to change that world – one life at a time, with love.

There are “messy” people coming to Crosspoint, and God is beginning some amazing works in their lives.  Do not miss what God is doing.  Don’t let it make you uncomfortable.  Celebrate it.  Pray that we’ll see more and more of it.  Even dare to get involved with them.  Because the simple fact is that some of these messy people invite more people to church than those who supposedly have their acts “together.”  Wow.

You really want to see a church grow and thrive and become a unstoppable tool of God?  Then watch – and be willing to be a part of – what God will do as he takes “messy” lives and washes them clean. 

  1. curtismchale says:

    You are right we are called to see the messy people in life. Unfortunately many churches are not willing to let mess into their buidlings or lives. I bet if you dug into the lives of most ‘clean’ church members you would just find a mess hiding uner the sheets. Like we see in Big Daddy with Adam Sandler they are just putting newspaper over the mess in their lives. I doesn’t really clean it up or cover it up but is a stop gap. Church members need to recognize their own mess and let it out in the open, as well as accept the mess from the outside world into their buildings.

  2. Exactly. I wasn’t intending some sort of arbitrary distincton between “us” and “them.” I certainly have had to deal with my own mess (I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t). Nevertheless, there is often an attitude in many churches where people fear and even shun those with “messy” lives (usually meaning people with problems people arbitrarily label as worse than their own, I suppose) – and it’s this self-righteous attitude that kills the church.

    The truth is we are all messy…maybe some people’s “mess” is just more apparent for some or has resulted in greater consequence for others. So, it breaks my heart when we forget that ALL of us are in as much need of grace as the next person. NONE of us is saved on our own merits.

    Also, It amazes me that these people on the fringe often show more passion for God and inviting people to church than the “veteran” Christian who’s been going to church for 20 or 30 years. If a person on the fringe better seeks and models the love of Christ than the veteran Christian, whose life really is a “mess?” I think about this a lot, especially here in the buckle of the Bible belt where some of the meanest people I’ve ever met call themselves Christians.

  3. curtismchale says:

    I have often thought that ‘good christians’ have just learned how to cover upt their mess better than the rest of us.

  4. I think “good christians” attempt to cover it up for 2 reasons: (1) Pride – some sort of false assurance that their so-called righteousness is of their own doing. To admit failure (expose a mess) would be admitting that their own efforts didn’t work, and – in their minds – that just can’t happen to a “good” Christian. (2) Fear – Surrounded by other so-called “good christians,” they know admitting their mistakes will mean the immedate destruction of their reputation – and probably their relationships.

    So they keep their mess covered and frown on people who haven’t been able to do that and “got caught” in their sin. That is the essence of hypocrisy.

    Maybe if we admitted our own “messiness” instead of covering it up, we could actually be the kind of community we should be – a bunch of sinners saved by grace alone sharing that grace with more and more sinners every day and growing together.

  5. […] Dave then spoke about reaching the lost and how that can get pretty messy – after all, we are ALL messy, and we shouldn’t forget.  We need to overcome our tendencies to get all ‘religious’ and shun peope we erroneously think are bigger ’sinners’ than we are.  (I recenty blogged about this topic in this post). […]

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