The 4th SURPRISE concerning believers and their relationship with the Church: EXCHANGING ‘GOING TO CHURCH’ FOR ‘BEING THE CHURCH’ IS TOTALLY EXILARATING!
Some disadvantages of ‘going to church’:
- it’s a really a false ‘gospel’ (certainly not ‘good news’). People often ‘go to church’ out of guilt or mere duty. Think also of the false security, or the disillusionment when there is no ‘life to the full!’ (Jn. 10:10)
- mere spectatorship. I ‘come to church’ lonely or feeling insignificant, and leave the same way. It mostly happens ‘up front.’ Ask dreary or bored church-attenders.
- often it’s all about a church, a minister/pastor, non-essentials. In an inter-church fraternal I attend we were told about a particular congregation with one paid priest assisted by 4 self-supporting priests. The 5 would take turns to preach, but soon enough some complained ‘Why is minister so-and-so not preaching today, after all we pay him!’
- minimal opportunity for life-transformation (1 hour per week)…
- minimal evangelism. A few years ago, when doing a hospital visit, I almost kissed a stranger when I saw her t-shirt logo ‘The Church Has Left The Building!’
Some advantages of being the Church?
- it’s ‘good news!’ It’s liberating, the horizons are limitless!
- 24/7 participation = 24/7 personal significance. Talk about ‘the purpose driven life.’
- continuous and deep ‘fellowship.’ The 90 year-old New Zealand mentor (mentioned previously) has another saying, ‘You can’t have fellowship in a meeting.’ Especially the kind we busy (and wear out) ourselves with! [How about the times of deep sharing with your spouse at the end of the day, ending with a psalm and prayer? The two-hour coffee with a friend who is bleeding? Working a garden for the sake of feeding the poor? (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32ff)]
- total transformation! At the end of the day it’s a lifestyle, isn’t it?
- powerful evangelism. In the family, at school or college, in the workplace.
- it’s really all about JESUS! It’s not about my ‘church,’ denomination, wineskins (Mt. 9) (HE is the wine!)
The 5th SURPRISE concerning believers’ relationship with the Church: WE ALL NEED TO REPENT OF ‘CHURCH-GOING’ AND SURRENDER TO ‘CHURCH-BEING!’
Things like ‘church-going’ are substitutes for the real thing, ‘idols.’ And we know what God thinks and says about idols…
‘The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne
And worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.” (William Cowper, 1731-1800)
This repentance (180 degrees about-turn) and surrender means drawing a clear line in the sand! It may just mean leaving your denominational, institutionalised, traditional (as opposed to biblical) church, to pursue a better way… God will guide and help you – you’re definitely not alone! (Mt. 28:20)