Sunday, November 9, 2014

Re-Thinking "Church"

The feelings of holiness and joy we have when we're in church for one day a week should match the way we live our lives the other six days.

But if we see holiness and joy as commodities we load up into our minds during church, rather than things we are called upon to express through our actions during the week, we're missing the point of church.

God knows us intimately, and knows of what we are capable, and when we need encouragement and wisdom to achieve His will, God stands ready to help us. In the same way, we must be always ready, too, to help our neighbors.

This Earth is not a dreary waiting room, where we sit patiently, anticipating death and a heavenly reward. The world is not a global funeral home, it's our first home, a place for joyful service, spiritual growth and a celebration of God's gifts.

The church also is our home, where we encourage and love one another, in preparation for joyful service to those outside our spiritual family as well as those within it. Church is the place where we encourage each other to become better and more whole and perfect.

Church is a wasted hour if it merely entertains the bored, reassures the lazy, and soothes the comfortable. 

In church, we are not the audience, God is. This is something we cannot forget.

A church gathering fails if it doesn't focus its worship on God, challenge people to love and serve God and our neighbors, and call them to Good Works and Righteousness that become physical acts of Light and Salt to the world. It should be a place in which we enrich our spiritual lives and also rededicate our entire Being to serve God and others in His name with our hands, as well as our mouths.

But Church is more than a building. In fact, when its only viewed as a building, we see only the mere composition of a structure rather than on the One Whom it is meant to honor.

We are told by God's chosen Son, Jesus, that we are to serve and love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and all of our strength. Putting others first, even to our own detriment (or to the detriment of a more comfortable building in which to worship) is the calling we are sent out to proclaim to others.

Should we not view the church in the same way? A church focused on a celebrity pastor, selling trinkets, or on the next multi-million dollar expansion project seems far from the Kingdom of God of which Jesus spoke.

THAT Kingdom, for which Jesus was commissioned by God and for which Jesus sent others out into Judea and the world, was focused on serving the poor, the widow, the orphan, the suffering, the hungry, the naked, and the oppressed.

Do mega-churches and expensive buildings and well-paid ministers and entertaining bands advance this Kingdom, or ignore it? Does all of Christendom's emphasis on the Self and seeking material gain that rusts and fades away advance the Kingdom? Or should we re-evaluate what "Church" means in the context of the one who founded it, Jesus?

We follow Jesus in joyful sacrifice, even if that means sacrificing our shiny new buildings and our comfort.

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