I’ve had two conversations in the last couple of days about ‘depth’. Then I came across this brilliant cartoon from Jon Birch on ASBO Jesus:
I often wonder if people who turn up at church on Sundays are looking for depth. The two people I was talking to (separately) took different sides. One said that people, especially at Christmas, are looking for something cheerful and bright. They don’t want to be challenged or made to think too deeply.
The other person was suggesting that depth is what we all desire but we seem happy to live what he called ‘laminate’ lives. We all want to be an oak tree with substance, solidity and deep roots but seem happy to settle for having a real wood veneer applied to our chipboard lives.
I’m not sure that the two conversations were completely opposite. I think the first was observing the outcome of the second, perhaps without looking behind how people present.
The think is growing roots and becoming that mighty oak takes time. It takes effort. Moving from the shallows to the deep end is risky and dangerous. In our risk averse world we would rather paddle than swim because we stay in control. Those of us charged with leading, whether in worship or in learning, must offer people the chance to dive in and to swim in the ocean of God.
I don’t like shallow and I want to be a tree. I want to grow and change and bear fruit. And I want to provide some depth for others. If the church has become a place of veneer and shallowness then perhaps that is why people find it less than engaging. And deep doesn’t mean academic or high brow. It means spiritual, connected and meaningful.
If the Christmas story isn’t a deep one then I don’t know what is. Let’s not make it all cosy and sterile and shallow. Let’s glory in the fact that God chose to come and live among us, in poverty, humility and depth.