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Thursday, 01 May 2014 21:28

Be the Church

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If you read popular Christian books about waiting on God to send you a spouse, you will eventually hear the suggestion that you “become the kind of person you would want to marry”.   That is probably good advice because you will be preoccupied and productive as you are becoming better marriage material yourself. 

 

Is it possible the same can be true about finding the church you should attend?  I live in an area where there are church buildings on almost every corner.  They have labels like traditional, missional, seeker-friendly, and orthodox.  Some are mega large while others are small enough to meet in homes.  Some cater to the younger crowd with rock bands and coffee, while older folks seem to prefer more traditional services and knowing where their funeral will be held.

Sometimes knowing or choosing which church to attend can be difficult and confusing.  Does one look for a congregation based on music, teaching, fellowship, or outreach?  Does any church have just the right combination of those in the right proportion, like I want one spoon of sugar and enough cream to make my coffee tan?  Is there any more a “right” church for me than there is Mr. or Miss “Right”?

 A few weeks back, I was praying about church. The one I have attended for the last few years basically disbanded when the pastor followed God’s call to the mission field.  Some of the members have gone other places, some are meeting with us in the exercise room of a gym every other week, while others are just not going anywhere for whatever reason. There are a couple of new church startups that look interesting in our area and some large churches that broadcast their sermons online and allow you to send in your offering through Paypal or credit card.  It is almost like being at The Super Buffet and all of the options look well prepared and are nutritious. How do you ever decide what to choose?  How do you know where God wants you to go?

 My question to the Lord was “where should I go to church?”  I was quiet surprised by His answer.  It was, “Be the church you want to attend”.  What would that mean?

 I am not sure in what order these criteria would be listed, but I know I would want to attend a church where I could be relational.  I have said many times that I don’t like church where people just sit for an hour, looking at the back of someone’s head.  There would be unhurried, rich, face-to-face  conversations, offering one another encouragement and rebuke, maybe in the same sentence. (James 5:16-20) I would seek to really know others as I would let myself be known.  Everyone would have something to contribute whether it was parking cars, changing diapers, or speaking.  Each person would come away with the assurance that their contribution was important and welcomed, regardless of their age, gender, income, or race. (I Corinthians 14:26)

 I would be doing something about the needs of the poor and distressed, like widows, orphans, the disabled, and the homeless for the right reasons.  Not to show my deeds to others for approval or acclaim.  Not to make myself feel less guilty or more benevolent, but just to love others like God loved me. (James 1:27, Matthew 6:1-4)

 I would be making every effort to embrace grace and truth. God’s Word would be my ultimate reference point, not what fallen humans have determined to be note-worthy, valuable, wise , or possible. (2 Timothy 3:16)

 I would be aware of those  who are “them” and have mercy and compassion instead of judgment.  I would try to see what it is in me that doesn’t want to be with them, love them, or help them.  I would seek to embrace negotiable differences as a good thing instead of a point of division. (James 2:13)

 I would be like a bride.  I would be all giddy with excitement over my Lover. (Song of Solomon 2:16, 6:3) I would arrange my day so that He gets my best hours.  I would think of Him constantly and reassure myself of His love when I feel distant from Him.  His glory and that He be loved would be my greatest desire. (Matthew 22:37)

If I was just being church instead of doing church, I think a lot of things would fall in place.  Every place I go would be a sanctuary.  God’s house would take on a whole new meaning.  I would not be expecting church to make me happy, give me identity, and meet my needs.  Instead, the Living Water would flow out of me like Jesus promised the woman at the well. (John 4:13-14) Others would get a cool, refreshing drink of His love when they are with me. I would get outside of my small circle and join Him as He so loves the world. (John 3:16) 

As I become the church I want to attend, I would discover that those things that I had thought were what I was looking for in a church would never satisfy.  I was made by Jesus, for Jesus, and only He will satisfy.  He will likely lead me to a body of believers with which to serve and worship but never to one that will take His place.

 

 

Read 1498 times Last modified on Thursday, 01 May 2014 21:37
Kathy Haecker

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