Why Church?

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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.

It’s me.

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….

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2 thoughts on “Why Church?

  1. Funny I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why I’m still going to church. Over the last couple of years it has been a place I go to not be lonely and to try to connect with God alongside other people. But in AA I now have another place I can do that (OK the God bit is more fuzzy but it’s there) – which makes me want to look more carefully at why I’m at church, whether I’m at the right one, whether it’s for me at all.

    Somehow I’m not quite ready to give up yet though. I told a friend a while back – after moaning about all the frustrations I have – that I’ll keep trying until I’ve absolutely proved it doesn’t work.

    Anyway, useful to know someone else is thinking along similar lines.

    Take care,
    Paul

  2. I very much *get* this. As a young adult, I was introduced to Jesus by my math professor (of all people!). I (naturally) began my walk with the people he worshiped with, conservative Southern Baptists. Yet, I had the sense that Jesus was beyond any particular denomination, so I never aligned myself with one. Meanwhile I grew…even to the point to where I left university to head into overseas missions. Like you I was in church whenever the doors were open (and even when they weren’t because I had keys!)…

    And there was good fruit.

    …But as life went on, with complexities and disappointments and deaths and chronic illnesses, and growth, more difficulties, I came to question the “cut-and-dried” outlooks that many of my fellow believers had. I am an intercessor, but God wasn’t healing people left and right, and my own healing has taken decades (and it’s not complete). Some of the very best people I know, were and are suffering. I had to learn of my Abba’s character, I had to learn that I wasn’t God and I wasn’t responsible for outcomes. I was becoming more and more disillusioned even as God became bigger and *BIGGER*…and though I become smaller and smaller, *somehow* I was finally coming to know in my heart that I was significant to Jesus…

    Yet there was good fruit.

    …Then I (likely with God’s help), I came to realize that I’m one of the hated “other” kinds of people. There’s nothing like being excommunicated for being yourself to get your communicate this! So, in that loneliness, the paradoxes of faith and God stood before me in greater relief…”stood”…heavens, I was IN the midst, I become one of these paradoxes incarnate: someone who should have rejected God, but clung even more to Jesus…

    Yet there was good fruit.

    …Lately I have been going through still more “pruning”…very VERY painful pruning…pruning I didn’t think I needed (but I knew I needed *something*…more healing)…and so “out with the shears” the Vinedresser approached. The cutting has forced me even closer…I’ve had to abandon more certainty, embrace more (scary) mystery, abandon more of myself: trust that even so, I am a loved, liked and *desired* daughter, when once everyone assumed I was a son. I have had to abandon my past and future as “dead” places of wasted emotions and time, and go into a new wilderness called NOW; He asked me to meet me there; He said it was only place He can hold me: being present in the “now” that He occupies.

    And there is more fruit to come.

    Our Lord, my Love, calls me Beloved and it is Him whom I have fallen-into-love. Though nothing else matters, everyone matters as one through whom God loves others. I live already in eternity; death only strives to catch-up!

    Blessings & Joy!!

    Renee

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