Going or Having?
“No man is an island, entire of itself.” – John Donne
Note: This post is in response to A Fractured Faith’s blog post “Stay At Home Christian”. To avoid confusion or context issues, I highly suggest reading it here before reading this post.
Why go? Maybe it’s because I’m from the South, but I believe I know a few folks that would get antsy at somebody even asking such a question: “Why should I go to church?” Well, because it’s what you’re supposed to do if you’re a Christian, right? What kind of heathen would even ask that?
Put your stones down, people. Chill.
That kind of answer doesn’t work for me. It almost makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up when someone proposes that the primary reason for doing something is because it is simply the thing that is done. To me, that rationale is a logical merry-go-round, and I imagine there’s plenty of thinking Christians out there that see it the same way. Potentially, it may seem taboo to call it into question, so they may not even bother to ask, instead opting to just not go to church at all.
I get that. I’ve even been there. Getting to the point where you don’t even want to be around Christians? I hear ya, loud and clear. But I would suggest a subtle but important change: I don’t think it’s so much being around fellow Christians that bugs us, it’s being around church people.
Fair warning to readers: you might want to watch your toes, but keep in mind I’m just as guilty as anybody here, and probably more so at that.
AFracturedFaith says this:
“They all seem so nice and happy and smiley. Everything is perfect and wonderful and ‘nice’. They have no concept of personal space and will hug you like their long lost brother the first time they meet you. Then ignore you the following day in the street or not reply to your mid week text message, desperate for a little support and fellowship. Then hug you the following Sunday again like some sort of holy Groundhog Day.”
Holy Groundhog Day. That’s what church is meant to be, right? Perfect and wonderful and nice. The real kicker is this: desperate for a little support and fellowship. What are we missing here, folks? People are hungry as ever, but they’re hungry for something real. Perfect and wonderful and nice is not a real reflection of our lives or ourselves. Where do we get off thinking that we’re pointing the desperate in the right direction to get spiritually fed by putting up the nice and wonderful facade?
“Church and Christians seem like barriers between myself and God at the moment.”
To take the question a step further: how did we get here? How did we, whose lives should be a light in the darkness pointing others towards The Way, become the barriers?
So what do we do?
I say we all stop going to church.
Seriously. Stop going to church and start having church. Start being the Church. It’s a lifestyle, not a routine occurrence. It was never about where it’s at, it’s about what happens there. It’s never been “For where there are pews and pulpits and bulletins and pastors and worship music and fog machines and pipe organs and offering plates and stained glass and strobe lights and altar calls and projector screens and hymnals…there am I in the midst of them.” Nope.
It’s simple. “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) That’s church. Unity centered around Christ.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think we can still have that with all the extra stuff I listed previously. I’m not telling you to go throw away your hymnals or pull down your projectors. But according to Christ, that stuff isn’t a necessity for His presence. I sometimes wonder if the laundry list of requirements we as church-people tend to add to our services do more distracting than focusing. How often do we as a church really examine our routine and ask “Are we called to have a routine? Are we called to be comfortable?”
That’s all a routine is, y’know. Comfort. We know what to expect, we know what’s coming, everything happens according to our plan. We make our church our way. And then we wonder how someone might see us as barriers to God.
The bottom line is that we’re all imperfect, we’re all broken, and we’re all in the same boat. And all of us imperfects put together, whether under a steeple or in a living room, will never equal a perfect. So it’s no use pretending. Who else are serving with our pretense but our own selfish ego? Why aren’t we all just as desperate for a little support and fellowship, and especially for the presence of Christ, when we have church?
And if we aren’t desperate, why are we even there?