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.
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.
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.
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?
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.