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I was a sheltered kid. I admit it.

The 10 years between my little brother and I meant we really grew up like only children.  Get good grades. Practice the piano. Invest in our local church. Those were my responsibilities. And I was good at them.

So when my wife and I first got married, my 21 year old resume of domestic experience was extremely limited (as in missing). Not only did I not do anything about the piles of laundry on the family room floor, I literally didn’t even see them.

You mean your underwear drawer doesn’t just magically refill itself? Does the federal government know about this?

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had never learned to take responsibility for these things. Can’t blame mom (because she reads these posts). I was just oblivious.

And that’s the way a lot of us treat church. Yep, I’m connecting these dots.

Every week we sit by, talk to, smile at, sing with, even volunteer alongside people. Lots of them.

But it’s safe to say very few of us ever look around the auditorium and think, “hmmmmm, I should take responsibility for that guy.  Maybe I should personally invest in helping him develop his connection to God. What do I have to offer?”

(so yes, in this analogy the people are like the underwear…roll with me)

Nope.  We may consider things like, “Hey, I should get him in that class.” Or “I should introduce them to the pastor.” Or “I should give her a copy of that book.” (Or most likely, “where should we go for lunch today?”).

And just like me, we step over the pile of unfolded laundry and find our spot on the comfy couch to watch the ballgame.

Blind.

Oblivious.

Because it’s never been our responsibility, we literally don’t even see it.

But what if I told you one of the best ways to grow your own relationship with God is to take personal responsibility for helping someone else grow theirs?

What if we stopped waiting for a better class, a better book, or a better sermon, rolled up our sleeves, and got personally involved in someone else’s life?

What if we stopped waiting for “mom” to take care of the piles of unfolded laundry all around us?

What if we started being the church to one another?

Listen to the latest City Community Church message on the subject:

The Story of Two: You Feed Them

When I was a kid I was terrified to go to sleep at night. The blue-green light of my clock radio cast just enough eerie shadows on the walls to bring my vivid imagination to life.

(You remember that rash outbreak of Russian thugs that broke into the bedrooms of 10 year old suburban kids back in the mid-80’s, right? Stupid Cold War.)

So I developed a little habit.

Every night I situated the blankets and pillows on my bed in such a way that my face was securely insulated in its own private hideout. An impenetrable fortress of cotton sheets and down stuffing with just enough opening for my nostrils to suck in the cool night air. No malcontent Soviets were breaking through this blockade.

As irrational as it was, somehow it made me feel…

…safe.

Fast forward a quarter century.

Just last night, I awoke submerged in a hideout of bed linens like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas Eve. Flashback to 1986! And even though I’m old enough to know KGB spies aren’t repelling down our aluminum siding to steal my Facebook login, it reawakened that childhood sense of covering and security I felt being buried beneath a layer of blankets and pillows.

Ridiculous right?

No one really believes that a few thin layers of bedding would act as valid protection from Kremlin assassins. But my little self-made fictional fortress helped me create the illusion (at least in my mind).

I’m still really good at building “hideouts.”

Controlling environments.

Avoiding conflicts.

Sidestepping uncomfortable conversations.

Pushing off the difficult decisions.

(FYI: “I’m praying about it” is always a good one if you’re looking for a “spiritual sounding” cover up).

And just like my pointless shelter of pillows and blankets, these “strongholds” are just false illusions of security.

Every time I hole up in my own man-made sentinel, I trade in the opportunity to be truly hidden away I choose self-protection over God’s protection. What an absurd exchange.  After all, do I really need protecting if I’m not even out there where it’s actually dangerous?

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” (Psalm 17:8)

But getting there requires the courage to throw off the covers and risk the threat of those imaginary Russian spies. Let’s face it, sometimes it feels riskier to trade in our fake protection for the real thing. We run from harmless shadows instead of finding true refuge in the shadow of the Almighty.

Maybe it’s time to come out from under the covers?