Last week, EA and I finally got around to watching The Lego Movie. To everyone throughout the year who told me I would enjoy it, you were right. It was right in my wheelhouse of humor and also surprisingly profound. Yet one of the byproducts of seeing that movie is that now whenever I hear someone say the word "awesome," I immediately hear "Everything is awesome!/Everything is cool when you're part of a team."
The song is as catchy as all get out and has unsurprisingly become popular. The irony is that within the movie the song represents how Lord Business is pulling the wool over the eyes of Emmet and his fellow blockheads. It's a distraction; perhaps even an opiate. Because in the context of the movie, the song is a lie. Everything is not awesome. Lego World is on the brink of destruction. But if you drill something into a person's head enough, they'll believe it even to their detriment.
I have noticed a recent upswing in churches singing "Everything is Awesome." Not literally, though I'm sure it has been shoehorned into a service somewhere, but there is this relentless insistence that you need to come to church this Sunday or this Wednesday night because it is going to be THE BEST WORSHIP SERVICE EVER! The more enthusiastic individuals will tell you this week after week. Everything is not just awesome. Everything is exponentially more awesome every week.
It creates an unrealistic expectation not only for worship services, but for life in general. The idea is that worship services and thus the church are more and more awesome because God is blessing it. By that same logic, your life ought to be more and more awesome if you are blessed by God. Today should be THE BEST TUESDAY EVER!
Not to be Captain Wet Blanket, but today is probably not going to be the best Tuesday ever. And odds are the next time you go to church won't be the best worship service ever. That's just not how life works. There are peaks and valleys. There are awesome times, periods of pain, and many moments that are somewhere in between.
Before he was arrested, one of the last things that Jesus told his disciples in the Gospel of John was: "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." (John 16:33b NIV) That news in itself is good news. It is awesome news, in fact. But we can't neglect the fact that within that awesome promise is the reminder that everything in the here and now will not be well.
Sure, you can sing "Everything is Awesome" loud and long enough to believe it to be true. But it's not true. To think the best is constantly happening is to play pretend and this world does not need Christians who play pretend. They need people of hope who have their feet firmly planted in the sometimes awesome, sometimes awful, and most of the times normal soil of this world.
The churches singing "Everything is Awesome" are not doing so for nefarious reasons. They want people to come through their doors; as they should. I just wish they didn't opt for the sensationalism of it all. It's a marketing ploy of which Lord Business would approve. There's no need to treat the church or the Christian life like any other product that we see advertised on television. I wonder what it does to the people that are not feeling the awesomeness that is being declared, who aren't moved by the services, for whom life is a struggle and to whom God seems distant. Do they feel like the product is not working? Or maybe they are broken somehow?
Perhaps instead of telling you that this week will be the best week ever, we should invite people to church because it is where a bunch of normal people experience community and an awesome God that helps us navigate the peaks and valleys of life. It is not a place of epically awesome events, but where we encourage one another on the long walk of loving God and our neighbor. It doesn't make a great slogan or a catchy song, but it should at least be the truth.