What’s all the activity for? Why do we as members of the church spend so much time doing stuff? There are so many spheres of activity, so many worthwhile events and initiatives, so many vital meetings, countless services of worship, acts of kindness and social responsibility, missions, conferences and charitable fundraisers…
All these things are valuable in themselves, but the activity and the demand for outcomes and progress often drives us to miss the main thing: each person we have to do with in all this work is a person made in the image of God, created a little lower than the angels. When there is so much of everything and there are so many people involved, there simply isn’t time to relate to each person on a deep level… there isn’t time for encounter. I wonder if we’re in such a panic about what has to be done in a cash-poor environment under pressure of time, and trying to work for maximum gains, that we aim for outcomes across a wide area of engagement and risk making a shallow impact that won’t be transformative in the way we would hope. What if we just prioritised spending time one-to-one….?!
I watched a video today of two people sitting gazing at each other’s faces. It was an act of performance art that took place in an art gallery. What happens when two people simply sit in silence and encounter the other intensely through observation of their eyes, features, skin, body? It seemed as if the experience was profoundly moving.
In an art gallery we stand and examine original pieces by talented artists. We pay money for it – some works of art call in millions. We are made in the image of God… we are each created, unique, easily damaged, mysterious and full of meaning, like most paintings or artefacts you’d find in a gallery.
What would church be like if we took our creation in the image of God more seriously? How would it affect what we took time over? How would it impact people who came through our doors? Could we take time simply to sit and marvel at the face of the person sitting next to us, putting ourself into the imagination of God as he designed her (or him?). What if our worship was more like a piece of performance art, open to a radical encounter with another human being?
Obviously it could send people screaming from the building. Or it could encourage us to make church a place where we contemplate what it means to have been ‘made a little lower than the angels’ and re-orientate our focus on the other extraordinary (human) works God has made.