The 21st Century has brought us a digital age which seems to replace human interaction with blue screens. Sharing life now consists of texting a “thumbs up” on an online post or stalking a person’s social media accounts convincing ourselves that we are sharing life with them.
Church and devotions are now available on cable or podcasts and make it convenient to hear a message, but does little to feed the human soul. Nothing replaces a smile, a warm hug or being greeted by someone who truly cares about your personal struggles and wants to share in your victories.
The first definition of the word "church" on Wikipedia is “a building used for religious activities”
And there it is. So many churches are becoming overrun with religious activities that we are missing out on the number one commandment “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27.
So often when I ask folks if they go to church the number one response is, “I used to, but I felt judged.” Don’t shoot the messenger, but this is the way the world looks at the church. There are usually a couple reasons for this.
One is the people probably went unnoticed and did not feel the love of Christ in the church they attended. They may have had a life changing event and were unhappy how the pastor or church leadership handled it. Maybe they didn’t even know about it.
The other problem may be, they simply want to be able to do whatever they want to do, and sometimes the Bible does not agree with our lifestyle decisions, and there’s good reason for that. Just because we want something doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Since the fall of man we have been confusing what we need with what we want. The Bible lays out a very clear path on how to avoid the snares of this life and live life abundantly, regardless of your physical resources. "Peace is the real treasure and Jesus gives it." John 14:27.
Looking at church for what it can do for you is the wrong approach. Where can you fit into the church and use your God given gifts and provide love to another person? Maybe it’s decorating or encouraging or becoming part of the prayer team. Maybe you like to hunt or fish and would like to do it with other people who like to do the same. Maybe you struggle with addiction, but you’re an amazing drummer and just need to be around people who lift you up and not tear your down. Maybe you just lost a loved one and you feel alone and just need someone to listen.
Church is the place where all of us have a chance to love each other right where we are. Church is where we can all gather to worship together no matter what the storm in our life looks like. Church is where we share life, the good the bad and the ugly.
Humans by nature are a hot mess, so welcome to being a human. The church won’t be perfect, the coffee may not be from Brazil and the singing at times maybe a little off-key. The point is the church should be able to love the hell right out of you so you can live more like heaven.
Let’s start noticing each other more, judging each other less and let’s make sure everyone knows that God doesn’t make mistakes and he doesn’t make junk. The invitation is for all! All of us are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Creator. It’s about time we got to know him a little better. Let’s face it, Jesus is the only one who knows the way, it might be time to think about following him.
Who knows, the privilege of going to church may one day disappear.
“On Faith” is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.