Saturday, June 18, 2005

Church: How I go without getting angry

I borrowed my title from a book I read. When I saw the chapter title coming up I was excited and almost skipped ahead to see what tips I could find there. Finally, I arrived with great anticipation. How does this postmodern author go to church without getting angry? What is his secret?

He changed churches. He shopped around until he found one he liked. Sigh.

I'm not changing churches. There's too much good about the one I attend. It's convenient. It links me to a larger community. There are good people there. However, in multiple ways, it's stuck in the middle of the last century and I encounter things there make me angry.

I notice in the Bible that Jesus got angry when he went to church. (See Mark 3:1-6) Apparently, it's not a terrible thing to have happen. But I'm not nearly so justified in my anger as Jesus. Some of it has to do with the poor and needy being overlooked but there's also some of it having to do with me being overlooked. And I've become hypersensitive in some areas, misinterpreting things said and done to be more offensive than if I would were I being more gracious in my assessment of them. Sometimes I'm not very charitable. Sometimes I have the sensitivity on my offense meter turned up way too high.

So how do I go to church without getting angry? I'm still working on that. Here's a tentative list of ideas:

1. Nurture my sense of humor. It's hard to stay angry with someone when you're laughing with them.

2. Be slow to see offense. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

3. Refuse to focus on my own sad self when among the blessed family of God.

4. Seek fellowship with the quiet people rather than focusing on the more vocal (and offensive) people.

5. Seek points of commonality while overlooking annoyances.

Tomorrow is another chance to put all this into practice. Will it help me escape without steaming? Time will tell.