By Ta-Ning Connai
I LOVE TO LAUGH! Just sitting here thinking about it makes me feel like belting out a huge Ahahahaha! And nothing brings me more chuckles than a Facebook page called Church of Laugh, where nothing churchy is off limits. From feathery hats large enough to be a lethal weapon to choir leaders that should be officially banned from the mic forever, get ready for some gotta-catch-your-breath hilariousness! I find their mix of humor and the Christian experience quite the clever combo; ‘cause I just don’t see why everything about loving Jesus gotta be so sad like those old gospel hymns (sorry but, no I don’t wanna go up yonder, yes I can DEFINITELY wait to get to Heaven, yes His grace is amazing, but do not call me a wretch, thanks). And while they usually have me in stitches, one recent post pointed to something that happens to me, and lots of other people in church, way too often.
They created a meme of various celebs sitting together, but they were all glaring straight ahead ignoring each other. The text read,
“When the pastor says hug your neighbor and everybody act like they don’t hear ’em.”
At first, I cracked up, hard; because, if there’s anything you’re gonna repeatedly experience at a black church, it’s gonna be the pastor trying to get the entire congregation all involved in the sermon: Hug your neighbor, dance with your neighbor, pray for your neighbor, my pastor will have you repeat a whole paragraph to your neighbor…expect to get really familiar with your neighbor. But far too often you end up sitting next to somebody with a really funky attitude. And that is not so funny.
The comments on this Church of Laugh post said a lot about the dry demeanor and dingy dispositions that sometimes lurk in the House of the Lord…
“This pic is so me! ‘Cause I don’t want nobody putting their germs on me, I don’t know where they hands been!”
“Girl, you can’t be letting people’s spirits be getting all over you! You don’t know what kinda demons is in them!”
“I just go to church to hear the Word, I don’t wanna be bothered with all that!
Out of curiosity, I mustered up the guts to ask my pastor why the “neighbor” thing was such a thing for him and other pastors across the globe when clearly so many people don’t like it… He said,
“Since the Bible says that, ‘faith comes by hearing’ it’s important to get the people to speak words of faith together so that it gets deep within their spirit. Also, it’s a way to encourage community, unity and fellowship amongst the people of God.”
Good answer! Plus, people come to church looking for answers, in search of peace, in hopes to connect. I may not be perfect, but I don’t ever want to be the reason people hate Christians and want nothing to do with God. I don’t want people to stop coming to church because of me. I hope and pray that Christians everywhere will truly and authentically wear that “label” with the knowledge that we have the power to change the atmosphere around us. Be kind, show love. Let’s be a blessing to the people God puts in our path, from the church pews to the beauty salon. I mean, what if a person’s chance to know God is by sitting next to YOU? One moment can change their lives forever, and whether that’s for better or worse it is up to us.
“…and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Ten Commandments)” – Romans 13: 9b-10
Do you mind interacting with your neighbor at church?