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That’s Awkward

Pam & Jim on an Awkward Double Date

Feeling awkward seems to be the reigning champion of humour these days.  Shows like ‘The Office’, ‘Parks & Recreation’, and movies like ‘Meet the Parents’, and ‘Anchorman’ are all about this type of humour.  Put a character in the most awkward situations imaginable and watch their reactions.

I think we love it on the screen because we hate it in real life.  It’s such an immersive experience for us, the audience, as we feel the silent tension, and share the looks of horror on the actors faces.

Let’s face it, no one likes to feel uncomfortable.  Whether it’s having to respond to an inappropriate comment, having to wriggle our way out of an awkward situation, or having our own shortcomings exposed; feeling uncomfortable is something most of us avoid like shaking hands with people in public bathrooms.

I have a feeling, this is why people killed Jesus.
It’s probably also why people killed all the prophets before Jesus.  And maybe why thousands of Christians have died throughout history.

Throughout the Bible in both old and new testaments there are strong challenges levied against the people of God.  Chastisements that would make even the most easy going person writhe in awkward agony.  God seems to be perfectly willing to make us feel uncomfortable from time to time.  This tends to make people respond in strange ways.

Here is one such uncomfortable saying pointed at a very comfortable church:
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.  You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” Revelation 3:15-18

Ugh, that is uncomfortable.  This is to the church of Laodicea, which was described as being lukewarm.  What else is lukewarm?  Maybe a nice swimming pool in the summertime that’s been heated by the sun?  Room temperature would probably be considered lukewarm, as would the bowl of porridge that Goldie-Locks finally decided on.  Not too hot, not too cold, just right.  A perfect synonym for comfort.
Now imagine you are having a nice meal with your church friends, talking about the newest thing you bought to make your life easier and more exciting, your laughing and enjoying your nice peaceful Sunday, and then one of the church leaders stands up and reads this letter.  You are ‘wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.’  Those words might make you feel a little uncomfortable.  Your first response would probably be to get rid of that feeling at all costs…either laugh it off as a joke with those beside you, or dismiss it as speaking of someone else or some other situation.  That would be a big mistake.

Sometimes those moments when we feel completely uncomfortable, fully exposed, and at a loss, are exactly the moments we need to be paying attention to.  I’m not saying every awkward feeling is from God, we all know that not everything on The Office is praise-worthy, but only that we shouldn’t be too quick to laugh off our uncomfortable feelings.  What might our creator, our former and shaper, the one who’s job it is to transform us, be trying to say?

To the church in Laodicea the message was plain, change or be spit out.  Do we take anything God says this literally, or this authoritatively in our lives?  Being uncomfortable in the presence of God and His word is not something to laugh off or avoid, it is to be poured over and understood.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to whom I have given authority over my life.  Unsettle me as You do to all those You love.  Keep me from complacency and religious comfort.  Don’t give up on me, I want to change, I want to be rich, to see, and to be clothed.  Amen.

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