Colgate Christianity

I've always been fascinated by advertising campaigns. I often find myself desperately trying to understand how a marketing company got away with charging thousands of pounds for a campaign that bears no relevance to the product being advertise or how the casting team got away with choosing incredibly bad actors. Perhaps I should get a hobby. 

Recently I have found the Oral-B 'Go Pro with your toothpaste,' advert particularly irksome. It isn't because of the acting. It isn't even because of the script. It is because the lady in the advert speaks the whole time with her sparkling white teeth showing. I have a feeling that their pearly white brilliance was there before she tried the toothpaste, and is at least in part down to colour correction in a production room. Yet, despite my misgivings, I imagine the advert is successful. I even considered buying some for a second in between parts 1 and 2 of of 8 out of 10 Cats do Countdown.

I have spent time in the past around what I consider to be akin to Colgate Christianity (other brands are available). This is the section of Christianity that believes that a squeaky clean, moral life will cause the rest of the world to fall in love with Jesus. Weakness, frailty and brokenness are rarely spoken of and are replaced by triumphalism and celebration. 

Coming together for worship in this environment was often difficult. There were days when getting out of bed was a challenge never mind smiling through songs of triumph that I barely connected with. Lament was absent, pain was absent. We were encouraged to leave our problems at the door. 

In essence we were called to worship as half-people. The pain in our lives was neatly packed away for the rest of the week and what we could muster together from the remainder became our church-selves, smiling with our hands waving high. Perhaps some of us were not waving but drowning as Stevie Smith's poem goes.

When Jesus meets the woman at the well (John 4) he meets a woman who was carrying a story of pain and loss. Some through her own poor choices some through the choices of others. We can understand that her being there at that time was an attempt to avoid human contact. Jesus leads her to living water and invites her, exactly as she was, into relationship with God. In the middle of the conversation he says this,

"God is Spirit and His worshippers must worship Him in spirit and in truth." 

Far from being called to bring some mythical best to God we are being called to bring our reality to Him in worship. We are to bring our spirit; the seat of our emotions, our mind, our soul. We worship Him as ourselves; in truth. We worship God in the truth of who He is; an ever-loving, ever-giving Father who pours out endless grace and blessing upon our lives but also in the truth of who we are. We are to live everyday worshipping in honest reality. We are to bring our pain, our disappointment, our failures, our illness, our doubt just as much as we are to bring our hope, joy and faith. We come in our tensions and our paradoxes and He welcomes us.  

As we share our faith it is a faith of spirit and truth that we are sharing. We aren't selling toothpaste. It isn't our perfect moral lifestyle that will point to Jesus but we are to point to him in honest faith. So when we don't have answers it is ok. When we wonder where whether the God we are sharing with others is even there at all, it is ok, there are days like that. The path of following Jesus is often narrow, often rocky and sometimes gets obscured by the undergrowth of life. Never give up following. 

It is never time to Go-Pro with your faith.