We are about to buy a new car. Well, when I say ‘new’ it’s new to us, but is about 7 years old. Yesterday we went to have a look at it and tried it out for size.
Our son is now 6’6″ tall so we needed to find a car with adequate legroom (and headroom). That is not easy. But we have found a car and I have just put down a deposit. Hopefully we will have it on Saturday.
The decision to buy, and the placing of a deposit, has been the easier bit. Now comes the complicated stuff…
Sorting out the car loan.
Getting insurance cover.
Arranging road tax (once the cover note has been arranged).
Getting all the documents together for the car we are part-exchanging.
Clearing out the debris and detritus that has accumulated in the car we are part-exchanging over the 8 years we have owned it.
Arranging a refund of the road tax for the car we are part-exchanging.
Sending off the documents to DVLA for the old and new cars.
Arranging for car parking permits to be transferred to the new car.
Driving home in the new car (the bit I am really looking forward to).
It’s so complicated because lots of different things have to be done more or less simultaneously, but in the correct order. We need insurance on the new car before we can get the road tax. We need the loan for the new car before we can pay for it. We need to drive to the garage in the old car before I can remove the road tax from that car before I can send it off to get it refunded.
I am so glad that I don’t have to go through all that rigmarole for most purchases!
How complicated have we made it for people to find faith in Jesus? How difficult is it for people who have drifted from their faith to come back? In no particular order (because it’s not like buying a car):
People have to learn our church jargon.
They have to learn our traditions.
They have to adjust their routines (to fit church (back) in).
They have to get to know lots of new people (or face some familiar people with whom they have lost touch).
They have to learn new songs.
They have to change their priorities.
They have to stop doing some things.
It came home to me recently when I visited a church of a very different tradition and style to that with which I am familiar. I kept asking myself questions about why they did some things, what some words meant, what I was allowed to do, what I was expected to do…
And that’s not the half of it. I love it when we have new believers in our church and they have so many questions. It reminds me that we should make it easier for people. Even a handbook would be helpful! Perhaps we should have a FAQ page on our church website (actually, that’s not a bad idea!)
But when it comes down to it, do they HAVE to do those things to follow Jesus? What’s essential? What is simply about following Jesus and what is about church? How many of the things included in (and hidden behind) that list are actually for the comfort and convenience for those who are already following Jesus?
Jesus spent a considerable amount of time tearing down barriers that religious people had put in the way of others finding God… and in two millennia we have built a lot more!
The message of Jesus is enough of a stumbling block… heaven forbid we make or maintain others. Literally.
Be blessed, be a blessing.