Monday, September 16, 2013

Church

Today, I want to talk about church. This post has been brewing in my heart for a while, and it may be just the tip of the iceberg that is my passionate heart for this subject. I really have no idea where this will go, but for now, I take a deep breath, say a prayer, and write. 

***

Church. 

It's one single word, and yet it can carry so many different meanings. For me, it means family. It means a safe place to come and worship the Lord with an incredible body of believers consisting of people who have truly become my brothers and my sisters. It means a place to come and meet my Father, a place where I can always find His presence, His grace and His love. 

For some, it means the same. And I rejoice in that. But I also know that for some, that word carries pain. For some, that word brings up feelings of condemnation and shame. For some, the word "church" is associated with people full of judgement and hypocrisy. For some, the word simply means a weekly obligation. An item to check off the checklist, and little more. 

Today, I want to invite you to ponder what you feel when you think of the word "church." I want to tell you that your feelings are valid. Your feelings are valid because I don't doubt that they come from legitimate experience. I don't doubt that some churches are filled with judgement and hypocrisy. I don't doubt that some churches do treat the Sunday message as an item to check off the weekly checklist. And if you have been a part of those congregations, or if you have simply witnessed them from afar, then I understand your feelings on church.


The fact of the matter is, the church is made up of us. So what does that mean, exactly? It means that the church is going to be a representation of the people that make up the body. If the people in the body are filled with judgement and hypocrisy, then you, as a member will feel judgement and hypocrisy. If the people in the body simply view Sunday service as nothing more than an item on a checklist, then you, as a member, will perceive that. And if the people in the body are filled with the Holy Spirit, then you, as a member will absolutely feel that, too. 

But what's important to remember is that we are all sinners. Jesus loves the church. He died for the church (Ephesians 5: 25-26). But with our human free will, we are perfectly capable of taking something God created with such beauty, and turning it into something it's just not. 

You know what else though? With truly surrendering our lives to God, we are perfectly capable of taking the church and turning it into exactly what God created it to be. A place to come and worship the Lord, to hear from the Lord, and a place to love on and be loved by our brothers and sisters. 

You know when my life changed? It changed when I stopped looking at the leaders of my church as people who were far above me, and started realizing that they were people just like me. It changed when I realized that the holiness that I craved in their lives could be a part of my life, too. I saw that church wasn't just church for them, it was a family. And I desperately wanted that, so I began serving as a member, and lo' and behold, the body turned into a family for me, too.

Church is important. Yes, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is key. Yes, that is where your salvation comes from, and that is the most important thing on this earth. But a life without community is a lonely life, indeed. And God blessed us with church as a way for us to come together and endure in this marathon called life together. 

Friends, if you have had a negative experience with church, then I highly encourage you to try again. It may take time to find the one that's right for you, but I promise you it's out there. The church needs you.  You are one of the many parts. You have a special function. You were created to be a part of this beautiful body of believers. There is brokenness in the body, that's for sure. But lucky for us, we have a Savior who's grace covers all of our brokenness. 


12 comments:

Hilda said...

My mom has taught us this too. She says that we should not just the priest because they are human just like us. That is between God and them.

So glad you posted this, Amy. So true. We go to be with God in church, not see what others are doing.

Mosby Hardin said...

Such a great post Amy! I have been trying to find that Family in a church since moving home. It is hard to not put these leaders far above me, but I know when we all come together and worship we are one mighty strong body! Thanks for sharing this!

The Pink Growl said...

We actually talked about this at my church a couple weeks ago!

Pamela said...

so so true!!

Alesha said...

Amen! This has been on my heart a lot lately too and I will probably be writing about it very soon. This was so good! Thank you!
Alesha <3

Heather Leigh @ Adifferent kind of woman said...

Love this girl!! So so much and can totally relate to every word. My had never had a good church experience until I became a family with the church I go to know which was a church I took part in from the very beginning!

Before than I was lonely in churches that kept to themselves, judged me, and didn't hear me when I silently cried for help and gave me the wrong impression of who Jesus really was.

Julie said...

Amen, girl! So much truth in this post. Church is such a blessing from God for us to participate in community with one another. I hate to see people viewing it negatively because of bad experiences. So happy to see you encouraging others to keep on trying because it really is so so important!

Kiki said...

Yes! I love your passion for church and for community--it's contagious to say the least! I've grown up at the same church and have had people tell me that they remember when I was "this little." It's been a blessing to have gone to Sunday School and now attend the same worship service with such a wonderful and welcoming church family. It's definitely a blessing I far too often take for granted! :)

Melissa said...

This is a fantastic post. LOVE IT! :)

I love my church. It is definitely family. But it took awhile to find it (even though it's been right under my nose! My husband grew up going there (when he was youth age) & my parent started going there in 96! I was at MY church home from age 10-26, but after there was a church split, it took me awhile to find a new church home. When we finally found Covenant & realized it was where God was leading us... man. Just felt like home. I love it. And i am so thankful for it!

Before we found it, we spent time at home on Sunday mornings sometimes... we'd get tired of searching. It was fun & nice to relax with my man on Sunday mornings. But after awhile i began to REALLY miss church & church family. And so did he.

I love how you explained that people's negative feelings are valid but that it is worth looking for the right church home! It is so worth it.

Great post, girl!

Elle Alice said...

Great post! I love that analogy in Romans 12 about the body as the Church. It is so easy to look to one part of the Church and want to be THAT part instead of the part that you have, whether it means singing worship or teaching, etc. But we each have a God-ordained part to play and we are each needed to play that part. What kind of body would it be if there were 20arms? Weird, that's what! We needs eyes, ears, arms, etc. Sounds so simple, but I still love remembering this Truth whenever I detect any feelings of wanting to do something else in the church.
Glad I found you through All Glorious Within's blog!

Elle-alice.blogspot.com

katie_shannon said...

I so agree with the looking at the leaders differently. They are just like us. People with messy hearts seeking Jesus. Also I try to remember that no church is perfect, because it is made of a bunch of un-perfect people.

This was great Amy!!
PS SEVEN DAYS!

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