While living in South Africa my family was frequently greeted, “Howzit?” This catchy little phrase is a condensed version of “how is it going” – and “howzit” just rolls off the tongue so much more smoothly! I find myself still using this colloquialism often, although I try to avoid confusing people with my quirky multi-cultural habits.
“Howzit” is a tiny phrase for a deep question. Unfortunately, we tend to use the “how’s-it-going” bit as a casual greeting in passing. Somehow, we manage to make a very intimate question into a phrase of mere utility. And though the way we ask it might imply a distinct lack of care for the person we are asking, the ubiquitous and universal “fine” responses we receive are far worse. Within the Church, we often perpetuate – unknowingly, perhaps – the idea that, once you have met Jesus and accepted Him as your Savior, you enter an even-keeled, continual state of “fineness.” We somehow draw the conclusion that, because Jesus is our Restorer, our lives shouldn’t be messy and we should always be “okay.”
We act as though God is bothered by our humanness. But the truth is that life is messy. Sometimes it is lovely, sometimes it hurts, and sometimes it just seems “off.” The trouble is that we are bothered by our own humanness – and the humanness of others. Because of this, as the Church, we have a tendency to settle for that “all-is-well” mien. And when we do that, we end up with “fine” relationships, “fine” lives, “fine” families, and “fine” jobs – a whole world of false fineness built as we hide our messes or complacently slide through the cracks of fellowship.
People who ask me how I am faring will get an honest answer, and I’ve found that responding to (most) people’s flippant inquiries with anything other than “Fine” or “Well” makes them rather uncomfortable. It is most frustrating to me, however, when I ask that question and receive the ubiquitous response of “fine” when I know that someone is not fine. When I ask, I ask because I care, I want to know, and I want to do something about it – even if that “something” is just listening. When people tell me they are fine but I can see the agony, the confusion, or the frustration screaming silently from their eyes, I am not okay with that. I am not okay with letting people slip under the radar, unnoticed and solitary. I am not okay with letting people be “okay” – whatever that means. When “fine” is not actually fine, I am not satisfied.
The Body of Christ – the Church – is meant for so much more than “fine” and Sunday-pretty façades.
As the Church, when we settle for “fine,” we are preventing ourselves from experiencing the wholeness and intimacy of fellowship within the Body of Christ. Suddenly, in our “fine” lives, there is no chance to bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2; Rom. 15:1-6) and no opportunity to do good to our fellow believers (Gal. 6:10). We close ourselves off from allowing ourselves to love and be loved in a way that fulfills the law of Christ (Gal. 5:14). We cannot “comfort…and edify one another” (1 Thess. 5:11) or bear with one another in love and enjoy unity in Christ through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:2-6). And if we cannot do these things, we are not truly living as the Body of Christ.
You see, in the Body of Christ, when one suffers, all suffer; and when one rejoices, the others rejoice in unison (1 Cor. 12:26). In the Body of Christ, we are safe to confess our sins and embrace the fullness of God’s forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:6-9). Within the Body of Christ, there is a beautiful cycle of giving and receiving that should be occurring. It is in this place of fellowship and honest intimacy with Christ and each other that all our needs are met.
Don’t settle for “fine.” We were not created for “fine” but rather for all the highs and lows of being humans with a good, good God who never fails. Do not fear your humanness, for you were created in the image of our matchless God, to reflect His glory. Choose vulnerability and find the wholeness you were meant for within the Body of Christ. Journeys are best taken in community, so let us journey well and journey together, my friends!