If you polled a group of people and asked them if they lie to their dentist I think you would get a 100% response rate of “Yes!” The minute I walk into the dentist’s office my moral compass changes and anything is allowed.
“When was the last time you had a check up?”
“Oh, I think it was last year some time”
“Oh, really? We don’t have it on record”
“OH…that’s funny! I could have sworn it was last year….maybe I went to that other dentist” ….And then the dreaded question that you know will come:
“Now” pause “Do you floss regularly?”
“Yes Dr. Walker….Of course I floss” And then the dentist looks and knows I’m lying.
Silence. The silence holds all the condemnation that can possibly fit in a single room. As my brother once said “If dentists were priests or pastors, churches would be empty” Imagine the first thing a pastor or priest says to you every week “Did you sin?” And the minute you open your mouth, he/she knows you’re lying.
There is a fear and dread about going to the dentist held by women, men, and children world-wide. No matter how much you’ve brushed and flossed, it’s never going to be good enough! Plus there’s always something we are worried about. The dull ache coming from the wisdom tooth; the spot that bleeds every time we brush; the dread that we have to finally get that crown completed – the temporary one having lasted five years longer than was planned.
And then I think about my brothers’ statement and I wonder about the church “Is that how the church is perceived? As a place where nothing you do is good enough? Where there is a dread and fear? Where condemnation hangs heavy like the silence in a dentist’s office?” And I know that the Church, made of imperfect people, sometimes fails miserably.
I had a visit to my dentist last week. I have grudgingly begun to trust (dare I say even like?) this man. He is practical, clear. and laid back. He accepts me where I’m at and takes it from there, with the gentle challenge “Perhaps you could try this. When you’re ready we could talk about that…” And I realize that had I stopped going my teeth would be hurting and I would not be healthy. So can churches be given another chance as well? To get it right, develop a relationship and gently challenge?
Many people feel like they’ve given the Church that chance, and the Church has failed them repeatedly. I know becaus I used to be one.
Like the dentist, I continued going back. I’m gradually learning and growing; slowly trusting this entity that Christ loves so deeply.
It’s not easy, but neither is going to the dentist and the outcome is ultimately more serious. My journey with the Church has not been easy, but I have learned to honor the struggle and trust the author of the journey.
Dr. Walker was good preparation for a much more important journey.
You can read more on my journey with the church here.
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