On organized religion
As I sit here on Sunday morning, with a hot cup of black coffee steaming here next to the keyboard, I crack my knuckles, stretch my fingers, wiggle them out, poise them over the 'home' keys, and think, "What should I write about?"
That's right, I don't know what I'm doing here. There's nothing on my mind.
See, I feel this urgent need to get some content on here because I've posted two pictures so far, and only one 'article'. This is supposed to be an 'opinion' blog, not a 'photo' blog.
What to write, what to write, what to write. . . hmmm. . .
Well, I'm skipping church right now. Maybe I should write about how important it is to go to church? Sorry folks, but I am one of 'those' Christians. You know, a 'hippocrite' -- all of us are. (In the words of the late, great Rich Mullins, "It's hard to be like Jesus") Before I get into it, though, you should probably know that I have a really good reason for not being in church today, and I did last week, too. I'm just not going to tell you because I want to be the only one who gets to evaluate how 'good' the reason actually is.
I know a lot of people who consider themselves 'believers' but don't go to church. Usually it's because of a scheduling conflict, or they think the church only wants their money, or they find church (let's face it) boring, or, they don't want anybody "telling them what to believe". Another huge reason people avoid churches is that it has such an unhealthy reputation nowadays. There have been a lot of downright sickening scandals, in the last, well. . . since the first churches were founded in the time of Christ. I'm deeply ashamed of this, and all I can say is, there are as many good and evil people in the church as there are in the grocery store, that doesn't stop anyone from buying food. We all need to eat. The common denominator is 'people'. I wish that everyone who called themself a Christian was honest, but they're not. You'd think church would be the place to go to find honest people, but it isn't. I once had a pastor that was fond of saying, "If you ever find a perfect church, don't go to it, cuz then it won't be perfect anymore."
So why go?
The theological reason: God created us, ultimately (mainly), to worship Him. He' like us to do it cheerfully and continually, with our heart, soul, mind and strength, in private, and in groups. Church is our best opportunity to do it in a group setting.
The practical reason: If you don't do it in the group setting, you're probably not going to do it in private. Be honest with yourself. You might say, "I don't have to go to church to worship God" and I'd completely agree, but, if you don't. . . you won't. Right?
The relational reason: Do you love your mom? So you go to her house to visit, even sometimes when you don't want to. Do you love your Father? Get up and go to His house (present company excluded)
The 'I have a short-attention span and am used to half-hour blocks of entertainment' reason: If you think church is boring, you probably haven't gone to one that suits your personality. Yes, it's okay to choose a church based on style. God doesn't change, but people, culture, music, fashion, and architecture all do. The reason there are so many kinds of churches is that there are so many kinds of people, and not all churches are boring so keep looking. Some services only last forty-five minutes, with loving consideration toward people just like you.
The 'purpose-driven' reason: Many of you are familiar with Rick Warren's best-seller, 'The Purpose-Driven Life'. He teaches that we were created to do five things; worship, fellowship, minister, disciple, and fellowship. Some of these words are 'church slang', but without getting too detailed, they're talking about things that are best accomplished through a church setting, or with your church's support. I've already described worship, fellowship means 'hanging out and forming supportive friendships with other believers', ministry means 'serving' (the sick, the poor, the rich, family, friends, strangers, your employer, your church), that would encompass the good deeds that so many people mistakenly think are what gets you to heaven, disciple, like discipline, simply means 'diligently pursuing every scrap of knowlege of God, available to you through sermons, Bible study, other, more mature Christians, and any other means available', and finally, evangalize, meaning, 'sharing the good news', you should tell everybody you can about Jesus and what He can do in your life. So, a true believer should be doing all of these things I just described, if you're not, there's something wrong. Can you imagine being able to do any of it without a church connection? It's possible, but not very.
The final reason: (For those who don't like to be told what to believe) You don't have to believe everything your church believes to be a good 'Christian'. Unless they're jerks, in which case you wouldn't want to go to that particular church anyway, they won't kick you out for disagreeing. Certain beliefs are necessary to be considered a true Christian, but they're plainly written in the Bible. Any church that disagrees with the Bible is a cult. God's Word is the highest source of truth, and you should search for it there first (not to mention using it to test the teachings of your church).
So you don't want to go to church? Neither do I sometimes. But you need it more than you think. Every Christian I know who's stopped going to church has seriously impacted their relationship with their Creator (can you say 'backslidden'?) and had to build it back up again. Maybe that's you. Maybe you've just never started going to church but you've tried to believe on your own. If that's you, then I'd encourage you to give in, and find a church. It's a more direct, more intense, and sweeter way to get closer to God. And in case your worried about me, I plan to be back next Sunday.
That's all for today, tune in next time when we'll be discussing aerodynamic advancements in flyswatter-shape technology.