Love & The Church

Today it’s all about controversy.  I’m talking about church.  Maybe you’ll agree with me, but it’s ok if you don’t.  Please understand, this post is about “church” and “church people” in general.  I’m not naming any specific denomination or peoples.  I’ve never even mentioned what kind of church I attend.  I think religion is something man makes up to try and please God.  I pray I have something more than just religion.  Lots of people have ‘religion’ and it does them no good.

See I told you this would be controversial.  It’s on my heart though and I don’t think I can not write it.

I sometimes wonder if the way we do church today is the way God intended the church to be, to live, to act, to love.  We run ourselves ragged hosting special classes and groups for everyone from the cry-babies to those on the express train to heaven.  We entertain – we teach – we throw parties – we host special events – we bake cookies and make coffee – we invite – we try to always have something for everyone – we do, do DO.

In order to run all these programs, we plead for people to give more money.  If they don’t fill the passing plate, we have fundraisers.  You see if we don’t put on a good enough show, the families in our church will leave and go to the church down the road or in the next town.  We can’t stay in a church that doesn’t have fun and exciting programs for our children.  Can we?  After all, those laser lights, catchy jingles, engaging games, and enthusiastic leaders help our children know God better.  Without them, our kids wouldn’t like to come to church.  If you’re under four feet tall, the last thing you should be doing is sitting on a hard pew or a cushioned chair and listening to the preacher.  You won’t understand a word he’s saying.  Will you?  He only reads out of the Bible and that will put your kids to sleep in a heartbeat.  Why, it even puts you to sleep almost every Sunday.

Attending a church with appropriate programs for the family is essential.  Without the proper balance of Bible and entertainment, we’ll lose our youth to the wiles of the world, the devil, and lust.  Of course, I had to throw lust into the mix.  It always ends up there anyway.

We don’t want to turn the children away.  We want them to be in church when they are eight, eighteen, twenty-eight, and seventy-eight.  The only problem is that they are not in church.  As soon as they hit eighteen, sometimes sooner, they walk right out the front doors and they don’t come back, except for weddings and funerals.  No I’m wrong.  Certain ones come back after they fry half their brain on drugs, serve seven years in jail, or have four kids from five different fathers (I was never good at math and I get more confused with every child).

What are we doing wrong?

We run all week-long and finish with a great big well-oiled show on Sunday.  Why isn’t it working?

I’m not going to pretend to know the answer to that question.

What I do know is that God is more concerned about hearts than he is about our special singers and fourth grade craft projects.  To be honest, and I may be going out on a limb here, I don’t think God really gives a hoot about what color we paint the sanctuary, or whether we have new toys in the nursery, or a scavenger hunt for the teenagers.

I really believe God just lets us run around doing our own thing while He’s waiting for us to do what He commanded us.

Mark 12:30-31 

And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Matthew 22:36-40 

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Luke 10:25-27 

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?

And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.

I wonder if our kids are seeing love in the church, a love that goes outside the church walls and loves neighbors, meeting the needs of strangers.  Real love, God’s love flowing in us and through us, doesn’t just hold classes on Sunday, but it’s a love that gets inside homes and bring truth to confusion.  It’s a love that cries and rejoices.  It’s a love that gives till it hurts.  This love isn’t just a show of smiles and kind words during services, it’s more.  It’s lifegiving and transforming.  It’s real.

Somehow I think this love does more good than all the classes, performances, and great facilities.  I think this love is the church.

We too often attend a church for what we can take from that church – encouragement, entertainment, practical life lessons, financial gain, friendships, babysitters.  That’s not enough.  Our focus is skewed, our perception of church twisted by culture and selfishness.

We, the body of believers that makes up the church, is failing.  We’re not loving.  I don’t think we’re making the difference we hope to make on this earth.  I know we’re getting burnt out and frustrated.  I know people are walking out the doors and never returning.  I know we are hypocrites.

We desire to be used by God, but too often we think God can only use us in the church building, whether it’s to teach a class, make a craft with the kids, or be a greeter at the door.  Only I think God uses us most often outside the church building.  He wants to use us on the playground and in our community.  He longs for us to show a little love to those trouble-makers on the corner, and help that couple down the road put their marriage back together.  He wants us to cook a dinner for the single woman whose five kids are driving her to drink.  God tells us to love Him and others like we love ourselves.

I’m just not sure that we (and I am talking about me too) the church are doing the right things.  We’re doing good things, most of the time, but I don’t think we’re doing the best things – the things God commands.

Kids have an uncanny way of deciphering true love from Sunday smiles and fun activities.  You may not be able to give them entertainment, but if you give them love, you’ve given them the best.  Adults don’t need stained glass windows, enough rules to keep them on the straight and narrow, or music programs that could put paid artists to shame.  They need love.  From you.

If we have any chance of making a difference in our world, it’s not going to be by any harebrained scheme we come up with.  It’s only going to be by obedience to the Lord who knows better than we do what people need.  God already gave us the greatest demonstration of love in the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.  Are we going to keep that love all to ourselves, or will we share it with others?

John 15:13 

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Maybe through love we can become the church that God desires us to be.  We can still make a difference.  We have time.  We have today.

1 John 4:16-21 

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

We love him, because he first loved us.

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

I’ve been thinking about this lately, but wasn’t sure if I should write it down and send it to the internet to live for forever; however, I read this post bright and early this morning and knew it was time for me to share my thoughts.  I’m not only writing to you, I’m writing to me too.  If God touches your heart with any of these verses or words, don’t waste time feeling bad, just align your heart to God’s Word and love.

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19 thoughts on “Love & The Church

  1. Pingback: 2011 in Review: Something from Every Category « the domestic fringe

  2. Merryheart

    Great post, Tricia! One thing though–the link to the post that inspired you didn’t work for me.

    Keep up your wonderful blogging, girl!

    Reply
  3. caprik

    I too am growing weary of “the show” at church.
    People (seekers) come to church because they are looking for something, but the church feels like it has to jump through hoops to make God more world friendly, palatable, easier to take.
    They are looking for Jesus. His forgiveness and love. Give it to them.
    It’s easier to get all involved in the busy-ness, planning and executing of events than to truly invest yourself in the lives of others.
    Love the ones God places around you. For a start!

    Reply
  4. Mom

    Oh Tricia,
    How God’s heart must ache when He peeks down on His church and sees the first of the two greatest commandments being ignored. Funny, I was just journaling some of the same thoughts this week.
    Love you!

    Reply
  5. mari

    Thank you for putting this in words, a powerful reminder/encouragement! The programs don’t make for a real relationship with our God, they can become easy ways to “do” Christianity. We must be on our guard and your blog today is a reminder to examine my motives, Thank you!

    Reply
  6. brightbunch5plus1

    Oh my! You did it again. The other day I told you you made me cry, and today… argh…yet another emotion you’ve pulled out of me. Ha!

    I have wanted so desperately to write about my feelings on this, but have felt that I just cannot…not yet anyway. Thank you. I am glad I’m not alone. I’m looking forward to reading the link to the blog post that made you feel like sharing this as well. Wonderful post!

    Reply
  7. lolahbf

    Maybe this is a trouble in American churches but it is not so in my church in England. Infact, there are a lot of youth in my church and my pastor hates asking for money from the congregation. lol (I sound like a teleshopping presenter trying to persuade you to buy my church)

    Reply
  8. MissCaron

    Preach the gospel always and when necessary use words. AMEN to your post, my friend. I think that it is important to remain relevant and engaging however I do know that so many people stray because of the people who call themselves Christians and not necessarily because of the gospel. We need to do a better job of practicing what we preach (Matthew 7:1-5). How easy it is to criticize others when we do not criticize ourselves. How is it that alcohol frequently becomes the heated topic of discussion when it really should be gluttony or lust or greed or so many of the things we overlook as a church. The greatest of these is LOVE (1 Corinthians 13:13).

    Reply
  9. Adventures of a Middle Age Mom

    I used to go to church all the time. I was the one who chaired committees, welcomed new members, baked, cooked, cleaned, decorated, redecorated, helped with Adult Studies, volunteered to keep the gardens going at the manse, volunteered with Vacation Bible School. You name it and I did it.
    What happened to me? My father died. My sister died. I was sad. So very sad. And burned out. Very burned out. I stopped going to church. I’ve been back twice in over a year. It pretty much leaves me cold. After more than 20 years at the same church and it leaves me cold.
    Do I talk with God? Yep. Every day. I don’t need a church to do it. Or committees.
    I volunteer a lot with teens. They are my people of choice. Brutally honest. Alive. Opinionated. And so many need to be loved and attention paid to them. I try. That’s my church right now.

    Reply
    1. chadshelpmeet

      Dear “Adventures”,

      My heart goes out to you. Like you, I’ve had loss and pain in my life. It seems to me that you needed much love from your Christian friends and did not experience that to the degree that you needed to.

      I believe that you are doing a wonderful thing by helping the teenagers; at this time in their lives, they need so much love and help. If God has called you to that, and it sounds as if He has, then who’s to say that it isn’t your “church?” After all, God says in His Word that the church is a body of believers. He never said that it was a building, with padded pews, a great sound system, and lots of classes; just a body of believers who help and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. That body of believers could meet anywhere, and be fulfilling His command: To forsake not the assembling of ourselves together. He promised in His Word that: “Where two or three are gathered in MY name, there am I in the midst of them.”

      Reply
  10. Bridgesburning Chris King

    I agree with you 100%. Somehow man has taken the basic premise of Love and colored it with man made notions, some including hate for others. If we truly lived as Jesus did we would not he judging others but giving them an example to live by. I know the programs generally do good but it is so easy to get caught up in them instead of what the real purpose is. This is an excellent post and I am so glad you spoke out!

    Reply
  11. Cathy

    I agree with you on this. But sometimes doing church is easier than being the church God wants us to be. Thanks for this great reminder. I’m already praying for forgiveness and help to change. I want to be more like Him.

    Reply
  12. livinginobscurity

    I commend you for taking a stand. I too feel this way. They will know we are Christians by our Love. Lord, we need you to perfect us in Love. This is my hearts cry, and I am glad to see there are others out there who feel the same. May you find blessing and favor following you!

    Reply

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