Someone said something today which struck a chord with me and I want to think about it. The statement was something like ‘I went to many churches in my younger years but I haven’t found anything that has made me want to return‘.
In my younger years, I wanted to be in church every time the doors were opened. I wanted to worship with other people and I found God in church. I learned stuff about the Bible and my relationship with God developed.
I also saw things that made me uneasy. I saw inconsistency and hypocrisy in other people. I saw behaviours that weren’t what I thought they should be. I learned that people are not perfect. I also learned that I’m not either. I saw in the Bible that we were all in good company – the people I read about in there weren’t perfect either.
To be honest, I have become slowly more and more jaded and cynical. I have seen behind the scenes. Some of what I have seen, makes me feel like – just like all is not as it should be. On the other hand, I have seen in many a very high level of personal integrity, honesty and real-ness – and I take my hat off to those people and hope to learn from them.
But, this isn’t about other people. This is about me. Over time I have stopped wanting to be in church. I don’t go as often as I used to. When I am there, I feel more like an observer than a participant. I no longer feel like this is my ‘family’ or like I really ‘belong’ – something I once felt and treasured. I feel ‘odd’ because I don’t do a very good line in pretending and I don’t wear the appropriate masks.
So, should I be there at all? And if so, why?
I’m not trying to ‘judge’ imperfect people. I know that if I find a perfect church I shouldn’t join it because I would mess it up. I know that any group of human beings will always have issues. I ‘get’ that. I am OK with that. I once said that I would be able to settle in any church where there are real believers in Jesus Christ, and where God turns up regularly.
I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this.
I want to be part of something bigger than myself. I want to find God – I mean really, in everyday reality. I want to be honest and not feel like I need to ‘pretty’ anything up.
I once read a book called ‘Hunger for Reality’, by George Verwer. Maybe I need to read it again.
Maybe I’m just tired. Perhaps I would be better off with more energy. Perhaps I’m too idealistic and need to knuckle down and work on it. I don’t know.
I suspect that I will conclude that church is something I need to be an integral part of. But I need to know why. I need some direction and purpose in it. I have never been able to just be an ‘attender’ and I’m not that, even now.
I will work on it and get back to you….