I hate broccoli. That’s not an understatement, I absolutely detest the stuff. About the only way that I can stomach the sickening shamrock-colored stalk is when it’s pulverized and mixed in with melted cheese. Yep, broccoli cheese soup is the only way that I can halfway enjoy eating the stuff. And you know, the funny thing about broccoli cheese soup is the fact that I often fool myself into thinking that it’s actually healthy! “There’s broccoli in there, so it has to be healthy!” Now, I’ve never checked the nutritional content of broccoli cheese soup, but I feel pretty confident in saying that it’s in no way healthy for any regularly-functioning human being. In the end, I fool myself into thinking I’m eating healthy because I know that deep down there, buried beneath the cheese and who knows what else, is a little bit of something healthy.
The more I think about it, I could probably say the same thing for church life too. We think that our diet is rich and healthy because there’s something good at the core of it. But in reality, we let so much unhealthy mess pile on top of that goodness that we’re really just fooling ourselves into thinking it’s still “healthy.” It’s not, and it probably hasn’t been for some time.
If you think about, we don’t like too much “health food” in our churches because, even though it’s good for us, it’s not easy to swallow. It’s hard to deal with conflict, reconciliation, finding a common good and respectfully rebuking people when they act in an un-Christian manner towards others in our shared community. It’s much easier to skip the “health food” and instead pile on the “cheese and butter” of indifference, ignorance, delaying important decisions, and altogether neglecting the seismic shifts in our culture and world.
Just like me and my diet, churches need to realize that we’re fooling ourselves if we think that our ministries always have been or always will be “healthy. “ Ensuring such health requires each of us to take a daily inventory of our “diet” and see how we’re contributing to the “health” or “obesity” of the churches that we belong to.
It’s not easy or cheap to eat “healthy” but it certainly gives us more energy and vigor to be the type of church that Christ wants us to be.
- Tyler Ward