Pious people make me tired. I had a colleague who uses a certain tone when she preaches that must be what she thinks preachers sound like. I wanted to tell her that the impression it gives is that she doesn’t believe a word of it. Turns out, she doesn’t.
That is what I’m tempted to think about most pious people. I attended a webinar recently about church technology, and they kept having technical problems. That was not a good omen, but I turned it off when the presenter announced that the reason for the difficulty was they began the presentation without praying first. UGGHHH.
I wanted to tell him that I had prayed several times already that day and didn’t need him to pray for me. What I did need was for him to get the proper bandwidth to make the presentation if he wanted to sell me on his particular technology. Fortunately, because I had prayed about not displacing my anger that morning, I didn’t say any of that. I simply closed my browser and got some work done instead.
The readings at the outset of Lent advise us to fast and pray and give, but not to do it as show. I’ve always loved deeply spiritual people who laugh and play and enjoy life to its fullest. They remind me of Jesus. People called him a glutton and a winebibber, but his prayer life so connected him to the Source of Life that, when he touched people, they felt Life itself flow into them.
Being deeply and authentically connected to God should be manifest, not by external religiosity, but by a power and a joy. Pastors don’t need to tell me about their spiritual lives; they just need to give me a tour around their church. Show me your ministry. Are you doing meetings or ministry? Are people’s lives being touched and transformed because they have been with you? Do people know God better or feel healthier and more alive?
What about you? Do people stand taller in your presence or gossip more? Is grace and mercy their instinctive reaction around you, or are they looking for an angle, a way to get ahead?
Do you need to say a prayer, or do you need more spiritual bandwidth?
Rev. Michael Piazza