Some time ago, I wrote a post with the title RETHINK CHURCH. This morning as I lay wrestling, I felt that topic begin to resurface and believe in my heart that today, it needs a revisitation. I am sure this time will look very different from the first, because I see things that I didn't see then, and I know things that I didn't know before--and certainly, I feel things even more acutely then I once did. I know many might question why I would suggest that there is a need to "rethink" church. I believe that when church doesn't mirror the New Testament teachings in spirit and in embodiment, (as well as, the teachings of Christ) it is time to take stock.
I must admit that, at present, I find church as I know it--and see it (in my customary circles) pretty hard to digest. It leaves me not only unrefreshed, but often parched and starved. I go in search of worship, fellowship and genuineness, but often I find a pseudo-representation of Christianity. Today, in many of our assemblies, the concern is more structural, hierarchical, finance and business-focused, perfectionist/legalistic and driven toward the outward appearance rather than God-focused and people-centered (even as we tout those very things). I am soured by the many ministries that focus so much attention on the human leadership of the ministry rather than on God--be it in name, advertisement, literature or even within the edifice. It causes people to be focused on leadership, in an unhealthy way, and not dependent on the Holy Ghost to "teach them all things"; beside all that, it is a major distraction to some who are attempting to focus on God, while being bombarded with images of human leadership while attempting to worship.
It is past the point of a slippery slope--we have created a whole generation of church-goer's who are fans of their pastors, and church leaders, rather than totally consumed with God, and the things of Him. It is such a tricky thing, because we think that we are being obedient to Scripture by caring, providing for and honoring church leadership, but we have begun to put them on a pedestal that belongs only to One King.
A side-effect of our dyslexic spirituality, is our love for natural things. We read "love not the world..." and find a way to justify our love of all things worldly. We read "delight thyself in the Lord, and He will give thee the desires of thy heart", and assume if I give God some time and pay tithes and an offering, I can have all of the (earthly) things I want--(and completely dismiss the grammatical context altogether, by the way! [I will explain: If you delight in the Lord, when He rewards you, He will reward you with what you delighted in--not things, but in the Lord.]) We also read, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." And, somehow from that we get that things = whatever my heart desires for myself and my family. The fact is, "things" refers to only three things (verse 31): food, water, and clothing/raiment; and they are all basic human needs, not merely human whims or wishes. God has not promised anything else.
Perhaps, an even worse side-effect is our tendency to dismiss or forget others in need. We simply overlook so much globally, nationally, locally--and even worse right in our own assemblies. And, it is through human instrumentation that God supplies the needs of everyone. We are ALL dependent upon someone to help supply our basic human needs, in some way. This is why there is so much poverty and humger in our world--not because there isn't enough for everyone, but because there aren't enough "suppliers" who will care enough to give of the substance entrusted to them for that purpose. We shut up our "bowels of compassion" so tightly against others, until I'm amazed that we fail to recognize it. We step all over and around needs, even as we read, preach and shout all over 1 Corinthians 13, the Good Samaritan and the woman with the issue of blood. How do we miss the point? How is it that we read about the Macedonian saints (the power-GIVERS of the New Testament) and remain unmoved and unchallenged to do more for others? How can we read of Peter and John arriving at the temple with bare pockets (yes, the church leaders were broke!), but still full of compassion and unwilling to leave the lame man in his needy state, and be so callous with need in our midst? They couldn't give him what he asked for, but they gave him what they had--and changed his life.
How many times can we make a difference--even in small things, and we neglect to do so? That small thing, that kindness, may be huge in the life of the recipient. I can't understand why we are so hard-pressed to extend ourselves for others--especially those who "are of the household of faith", and besides you never know when you might be "entertaining angels unawares". Sometimes, I wonder if we really believe the Bibles we carry. I do notice how expertly the saints avoid healthy debate and confrontation on the tough issues. We label people as rebellious or "off" without even so much as a conversation. We're really good at it--we've perfected it, after so many years. It's the stuff we all see and know about, but only discuss behind closed doors. Rethinking church....
The truth is, it has all led to a real disillusionment for me--not at all with God, but with church--not the Church, but church; and there is a difference.
I crave Church. I desperately NEED Church--it is imperative for my spiritual health and well-being.
My soul is thirsty in a dry and barren land.
Even so, come Lord Jesus....